Looking to Do Some Estate Planning?
Good for you. Most people should have some kind of estate plan, but most people don’t. Whether you’re nearing the end of your life, just starting out, or somewhere in the middle, planning ahead can help ensure that your wishes are honored after you die or become incapacitated. A thorough estate plan will help you:
You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to make your basic wishes known -- even a very basic plan can take care of the essentials. The size and complexity of your estate plan will likely depend on your life circumstances and the kinds of property you own. A good estate planning attorney can help you figure out which documents you need.
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Ready to Meet With a Lawyer?
Before hiring a lawyer to help you with your estate plan, make sure to speak directly—preferably in person—to the attorney who will be primarily responsible for helping you. Consider sketching out a list of property and potential beneficiaries to bring to the meeting -- that way, the lawyer can get a good idea of what you might need and you won’t have to try to recall details in the moment. Remember that you don’t need to hire the first attorney you consult and that, first and foremost, you want a lawyer you trust.
What to Ask a Lawyer
When gathering your thoughts and documents, think about what you’ll want to ask the lawyer. Consider including on your list questions about:
- Name beneficiaries for your property.
- Avoid probate.
- Protect you from unnecessary taxes.
- Nominate guardians for your young children and their property.
- Appoint someone to make health care and financial decisions on your behalf.
- Document your wishes for health care.
- Provide instructions or preferences for your funeral or memorial arrangements.
- the lawyer’s initial impressions of your situation
- the lawyer’s experience with situations like yours
- attorneys’ fees and other expenses (flat-rate or by the hour)
- additional fees to consider (like recording fees)
- who actually drafts the documents and who then reviews them
- how long it will take until you have your finalized documents
- the attorney-client privilege, if you have concerns about privacy, and
- how often will the attorney want to review your documents after your plan is complete.