How to Prepare for an Estate Planning Meeting

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The process of estate planning can sometimes feel overwhelming, and you might not be sure what to expect when you consult with your attorney for the first time. As the date for your meeting approaches, it’s important to prepare in advance so you can get the most out of it. Although your attorney may ask you questions that you might never have thought of, to prepare for your estate planning meeting you can still gather important documents ahead of time and carefully think about who you wish to receive your property when you pass. Here are five crucial measures you can take when it comes to estate planning preparation:

1. Gather Your Financial Documents and Paperwork

Before your estate planning meeting, take the time to gather your financial documents and paperwork. This will help to provide your attorney with the information they need to assess your assets and advise you how your wishes can be best carried out. Financial documents and paperwork you should bring to the meeting may include the following:
  • Real estate deeds
  • Financial statements
  • Titles showing ownership of vehicles and other property
  • IRA statements
  • Checking and savings account statements
  • Business agreements
  • Stock certificates
  • Certificates of intellectual property registration
  • Life insurance policy information
  • Prenups, postnups, and divorce agreements
If you’ve already made an estate plan, bring copies of it with you. This can include any previously executed wills, trusts, powers of attorney, or advance healthcare directives. Your attorney will review the documents and determine whether they should be amended, or new documents should be created.

2. Make a List of Beneficiaries and Contingent Beneficiaries

Once you’ve identified all your property and assets, make a list of the loved ones who you would like to receive them. Remember, in addition to leaving property in a will, there are several other tools that can be used. A trust can allow you not only to provide for a loved one — but you can control how the assets are distributed and used. This can be vital if you do not wish the beneficiary to receive the assets until they reach a certain age or a specific event has occurred. In addition, by using beneficiary designations on retirement accounts or life insurance policies, you can ensure those individuals receive the assets directly without going through probate. You should also think about who will be contingent beneficiaries. These are the individuals or entities who will receive your assets if the primary beneficiary has passed away, cannot be located, or refuses the inheritance. Beneficiaries and contingent beneficiaries named in wills, trusts, financial accounts, and other instruments should be reviewed and updated as necessary when major life events occur, such as births, deaths, marriages, and divorces in the family.

3. Consider Who Will Be Your Executor

Selecting an executor for your will can be challenging. While it isn’t mandatory that you choose an attorney or accountant, it’s essential to select someone who is responsible, organized, and trustworthy. The executor will do everything from filing your will with the probate court to ensuring your debts are paid, and your assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes. If you aren’t certain who you should designate as your executor, discuss the matter with your attorney and ask for their advice. They can also provide further insight regarding the role the executor will play regarding the administration of your estate.

4. Think About Who Will Make Decisions if You Become Incapacitated

A comprehensive estate plan doesn’t only cover what will happen to your assets when you pass away. It should also address what will happen if you become ill or incapacitated and cannot make decisions for yourself. The unexpected can happen at any time and having a plan in place for incapacity can ensure the proper documents are in place that give authority to the people of your choice, rather than let a court decide. An important part of estate planning preparation is carefully considering your medical power of attorney. This is the person who you would want to decide your healthcare matters and take care of your finances if you become unable to do so. You should also think about who you would like to act as your financial power of attorney — this is the individual who would be responsible for handling your bills, taxes, business affairs, and legal matters. Your attorney can discuss these matters with you and draft the applicable documents.

5. Compile Your Questions for Your Attorney

Estate planning preparation can be complicated and you likely have many different concerns. For instance, you might wonder what will happen to your assets if you don’t have a will in place, or how to make sure your pets will be taken care of. You might also be concerned about your business interests and how to choose a trustee. Sometimes, it can be hard to remember all the questions you might want to ask your attorney. Compile your questions ahead of the meeting so you can have an extensive conversation about your specific goals and objectives.

Contact an Experienced Oregon Estate Planning Attorney

Regardless of the size of your estate, everyone should have a plan in place to ensure their wishes are met when they pass, or in the event of incapacitation. A knowledgeable attorney can help to guide you through the process and help you achieve your objectives. Based in Salem, Litowich Law is dedicated to providing clients throughout Oregon with skillful counsel for a variety of estate planning matters. We welcome you to contact us to schedule a consultation.
Categories: Estate Planning