Planning what will happen to your estate after your death is an important process. However, to achieve your goals, you have to prepare adequately for the process. During your initial consultation with one of our estate planning attorneys, you will need to provide certain documents and information. 

This will enable them to develop a suitable estate plan for your situation and goals; one that will protect your loved ones and properties when you are gone. So what should you bring along to your first estate planning consultation?

The Intake Questionnaire

When you initially schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, we’ll send you an Estate Planning Questionnaire to fill out. The document is designed to help collect important family and financial information. Providing the required details allows the lawyer to understand your situation so they can offer the best advice. Make sure you take time to fill out the questionnaire to ensure all the information is accurate and complete. This way, the estate planning process is likely to be faster and less complicated. 

A List Of Any Questions Or Concerns

Estate planning can be complicated and overwhelming. As such, your initial consultation with one of our estate planning attorneys can be a stressful event. The first meeting presents a great opportunity to ask questions and raise any concerns you may have regarding the process. 

Our team will patiently guide you through the process to help you understand the process of estate planning. This will go a long way in making the experience better and more effective for everyone. 

Your Financial Documents

Bringing documents detailing your assets and liabilities will allow your attorney to have a clear picture of your financial situation. This will ensure the process moves along efficiently. Below are some financial documents you should carry or make copies of. 

1. Deeds To Any Real Estate

A grant deed is a legal document that is used to transfer ownership of property. It is important that your attorney knows exactly how the titles to your home, buildings and lots are currently held. The right title will allow them to transfer your real property to a trust in case this is your preferred estate planning technique. This will also reduce the likelihood of the property being subject to probate. 

2. Financial Statements

Your financial statements will help the attorney to categorize your assets for purposes of inheritance. This is why you should bring up-to-date bank, investment and retirement account statements. These statements contain crucial information relating to your savings, taxes and debts. The documents should clearly show the account owner, account numbers and balances. A clear understanding of what you own separately and jointly with your spouse will enable the legal expert to advise you accordingly. 

3. Stock and Investment Information

Investments in stocks, bonds and money market funds form part of your assets. As such, you should be sure to include them in your estate plan. During your initial estate planning consultation, bring any information on investments and brokerage accounts.

4. Details On Any Intellectual Property

When creating your estate plan, you should not overlook any IP you may hold – patents, trademarks, copyrights, etc. To ensure your estate plan protects your intellectual property, you should have it well documented, included in your will and assigned to your trust or a chosen beneficiary. When preparing for your first consultation, make copies of your patent, trademark, and copyright registration documents and bring them along. 

5. Life Insurance Policy Information

If you have a life insurance policy, the listed beneficiaries will be paid a death benefit when you die. During estate planning, you can review the beneficiaries and the amount that will be available for them upon your death. When meeting your lawyer, remember to bring along your life insurance policy documents. The documents should contain details like the owner of the policy, the policy number and the death benefit. 

6. Business Agreements

If you own a business or have interests in a partnership, consider carrying your signed business agreements to the appointment. These include the partnership agreement, lease agreement and buy-sell agreement. Oftentimes, these documents will stipulate the disposition of your interest after you pass away. As such, the estate planning process cannot be completed without going through and taking into account the contents of your business agreements. 

Details On Tangible Personal Property

You may have personal property that you would not like to be given to your surviving spouse or distributed among your surviving children. This may include items of high value such as jewelry, stamps, coins, antiques, cars and artwork.  

For the property to be handled in line with your wishes, prepare a list of the items and identify the person you would like to inherit them. You should then bring the list with you to your initial consultation. 

Your Current Estate Planning Documents

To ensure proper estate planning, carry any wills, trusts, powers of attorney or advance healthcare directives you may have previously prepared. Your estate planning attorney will review the documents, discuss the contents with you and make any amendments that may be necessary. This will help to avoid confusion when it is time to fulfill your wishes. 

Prenuptial, Divorce Or Other Marital Agreements

Marriage and divorce will definitely affect your estate plans. Depending on your situation, you may want to delist or list spouses. When going for your first estate planning consultation, be sure to bring any prenuptial agreements, marital agreements or divorce documents. Your attorney will review the documents and offer expert advice to help you plan your estate with these in mind. 

Contact Info For Important Contacts

Lastly, you will have to determine who you want to inherit your assets. Similarly, you need to pick individuals to take on the responsibility of making important decisions and carrying out your last wishes. When going for your initial consultation, carry with you contact information for your professional advisors, general practitioner, trustees, executors, guardians and agents under a power of attorney. This will contribute towards a successful estate plan. 

This list is by no means exhaustive – your estate planning attorney may request additional information. Also, you may want to discuss your overall goals and intentions for your estate plan during the meeting. This will go a long way in ensuring more efficient use of time and help you obtain a comprehensive plan that is tailored to your individual needs.

It’s important to choose the right team to help with your estate planning, and McCollum Law is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our estate planning attorneys!