- posted: Dec. 25, 2023
- Estate Planning
Estate planning is a means of making decisions about how your assets will be managed and distributed after your death, through wills, trusts and related documents. The first step in the process is your initial meeting with an attorney to discuss your estate planning goals. To get the most out of the meeting, it's important to come prepared.
Here is a summary of information and documents to bring to the meeting, which can help your attorney begin to devise a comprehensive estate plan:
- Identification and personal information — This includes your driver's license, passport and social security number, which can help in accurately identifying you in legal documents and in verifying your identity.
- Family and beneficiary information — Compile a list of family members, including their full names, dates of birth and contact information. This should also include names and contact information of beneficiaries you want to provide for.
- Current estate documents — If you have already created a will, trust or power of attorney, bring copies of these documents with you. Your attorney can review them with a view toward making revisions or replacements.
- Financial statements — Provide statements relating to your bank accounts, investments, retirement accounts and investments.
- Insurance policies — Bring details of about your life insurance, including policy numbers, beneficiaries, coverage amounts and equity values.
- Business interests — If you own a business or have a significant interest in one, bring relevant documentation, such as shareholder agreements, partnership agreements and succession plans.
- Real estate — Bring copies of deeds and mortgages for properties you own, as well as leases for any property that you’ve rented out.
- Personal property — Make a list of valuable personal assets like vehicles, jewelry, artwork, antiques and collectibles.
- Healthcare Information — Bring advance healthcare directives, powers of attorney for healthcare or living wills that you have created.
- Tax Information — You should have on hand your latest federal and state tax returns, along with records of any other taxes recently paid.
- Executor or trustee information — If you've already chosen an executor or trustee, provide their contact details. If you haven't chosen, be prepared to discuss potential candidates.
- Digital assets — Provide information about online accounts and digital assets like cryptocurrency.
Besides bringing these essential documents and information, you should sketch out your estate planning goals, concerns and any unique circumstances. These may include considerations related to a blended family, special-needs beneficiaries, charitable objectives or tax reduction strategies. Sharing this information will help your attorney tailor an estate plan to your needs.
Estate planning is vital to securing your legacy and to ensuring your loved ones are taken care of according to your wishes, so taking the time to be organized and thorough is worth the effort. By coming to your initial meeting well-prepared, you can make the process smoother and more efficient.
The Law Firm of Joseph M. Udall, PLC in Mesa helps Arizona residents with wills, trusts and other aspects of estate planning. Please call (480) 500-1866 or contact us online to discuss your needs.