This is an article from The Law Offices of Richard B. Schneider, LLC (http://www.rbsllc.com/) in Portland, Oregon, that we thought others may find helpful.
If you have decided to create a comprehensive estate plan, you have made a wise decision. The time, effort, and cost that goes into creating your estate plan will benefit you and your loved ones for the rest of your life and beyond. If you have never met with an estate planning attorney before, you may be a bit nervous about the meeting, wondering what to expect. Because an estate plan is highly personal, no two are exactly the same. Therefore, no two initial consultations are the same either. There are, however, some universal estate planning considerations that may help you prepare for your first meeting. Taking some time prior to your meeting to consider the following will likely make your meeting more productive:
- Goals – sit down and make a list of your top three estate planning goals. Determining how your estate assets will be distributed when you die is a universal goal; however, you likely have other goals as well such as probate avoidance, incapacity planning, or retirement planning.
- Assets – make a list of your major assets and the approximate value of each one. You cannot decide how to distribute your assets unless you have a clear picture of what assets you own, and what they are worth.
- Debts – major debts should also be listed, as they need to be taken care of in the event of your death.
- Beneficiaries – another list should include all of your intended beneficiaries.
- Fiduciaries – have you given any thought to who you plan to appoint to fiduciary roles in your plan? For example, who will be the Executor of your estate? Who will you appoint as Trustee if you decide to create a trust? What about a Guardian for minor children? Finally, who do you want to make decisions on your behalf, should you be unable to make them, as a result of incapacity?
- Special considerations — what special issues do you want to address in your estate plan? For instance, do you have a special needs child that needs to be included in your estate plan? Do you own a business? Business succession planning is important. Anything that is not likely included in the average estate plan, should be considered here.
By setting aside some time prior to your initial consultation, you will feel better prepared to get started on your estate plan.