If you are ready to begin the estate planning process, you are likely going to need an attorney’s help! However, we know why many folks put off this necessary trip to their attorney: no one wants to be asked about what they want to happen after they die. While it’s hard to think about, it’s so important. What would you like your family to do with your remains? What will happen to your children? Hard questions, but necessary ones. We recommend coming up with some basic ideas of what you want to happen, then arranging a consultation with the team at the Smith Law.
Here are some of the top ways you can prepare for your consultation with our estate planning attorneys.
Consider Family Information
Write down a list of your family’s full names, nicknames, ages, and any contact information we may need. This includes spouses, kids, grandkids, and siblings. These people may be possible beneficiaries, fiduciaries, guardians, or something else in regards to your estate and other family members. Your attorney will need this list in order to help you lay out a proper method of contact in the event of your passing.
List Your Financial Information
What bank accounts do you have open? What about stocks, bonds, or treasury notes? Do you have any existing investments? This information is important to have with you. While knowing the account numbers is nice, the main point of this process is to help the attorney discover the titling. They want to know whether you share these accounts, or if you are the sole contributor. They can then assess the magnitude of your assets to determine how to best proceed.
Gather Retirement Savings and Life Insurance Information
Your 401(k), IRAs, Roths, and any other savings and pension information designed for retirement can make a huge difference in the way you go about estate planning. Just make sure you know the type of asset each one is, the employer or institution of each one, and any beneficiaries already listed.
Life insurance information should include the type of policy you hold, any ownership details, the name of the company, and any beneficiary information of the people you have already appointed to the policy. We recommend bringing in your exact death benefit paperwork.
Bring in Real Estate and Property Information
If you own any real estate, regardless of whether it’s a house or acres of land, you will need this information to include in your estate planning. Bring the address, a list of who all owns the property (is it just you, or do you own it with family?), what the current market value is, as well as any outstanding mortgage balance. Do this for any and all property you own, including your primary residence, a vacation home, any rental properties, and business properties.
As far as personal property goes, create a list of items that hold value for you and your family. This includes any collectibles, antiques, jewelry, art, or anything else that your family sees as valuable. Even if you don’t think it’s valuable, you could be wrong. It’s the liquidation value that drives the taxes, not the replacement value.
For those of you who are business owners or have any business interest, include this in your information. Make note of the location, the type of business, and other partners in your company. These all need to be taken into consideration.
Everyone who is intending to begin planning for their passing has a few questions they need to ask themselves. These include:
- Is there a specific person who you would like to receive your property?
- Is there anyone you do not want receiving property?
- Would you like to leave anything to charity or religious institution?
- Who would you like to be the executor of your will? What about a trustee over your trusts?
- Do you need to select a guardian for your children? If so, who would you choose?
- Would you like to leave instructions for your funeral arrangements?
- Do you want to donate your organs or your body to science?
- Do you want to create a living will and a health care power of attorney in case you should be placed on life support?
Whatever your intentions may be, make sure to write them down and make your wishes clear to your attorney.
Know Your Goals with an Estate Planning Attorney
It’s okay if you aren’t sure where you want certain assets to go just yet. You can make those decisions with time and knowledge. Our team is here to help you understand the estate planning process and make sure that your wishes have been defined clearly for your family and loved ones. Please contact the Smith Law today to schedule your appointment! We look forward to working with you.