Share

Visalia, CA Estate Planning Blog

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Taking the First Step

Preparing to Meet With an Estate Planning Attorney

If you're like most people, the term "Estate Planning" is probably a pretty vague one for you. Don't worry, that is perfectly normal! Despite how important estate planning is, most people don't have a clear idea what is meant by probate, the benefits of creating a Revocable Living Trust, or how the laws of guardianship work, just to name a few. But fear not! As an estate planning attorney, my goal is to be your guide through this process, and with your input, co-author an estate plan that is perfect for you. However, for the best possible plan, it is helpful to gather up some key information before you meet with your chosen attorney.

A thorough and complete estate plan must take into account a significant amount of information about your assets, your family, your property, and your wishes during and after your life.  When you make your first appointment with an estate planning attorney, ask the attorney or the paralegal if they can provide a written list of important information and documents that you should bring to the meeting.  

Generally speaking, you should gather the following information before your first appointment with your estate planning lawyer.

Family Information
List the names, birth dates, death dates, and ages of all immediate family members, specifically current and former spouses, all children and stepchildren, and all grandchildren.

If you have any young or adult children with special needs, gather all information you have about their lifetime financial needs.

Property Information
For all real property you own or can reasonably expect to acquire, gather the property description, your ownership interest information, the address, market value, any outstanding mortgage balance, and the most recent tax assessment.

For any personal property of value (such as vehicles, jewelry, coins, antiques, stamps, and art), compile a list that includes a description, the physical location of each item, your ownership interest information, the market value, and any liens against the property.

Business Information
If you have an ownership interest in a business, make sure you have documents showing your ownership interest in the business, the business location, the names and contact information of other owners, and 2-3 years of past profit and loss statements.

Financial Information
Compile a list of all your financial accounts, including: checking accounts, savings accounts, investment accounts, stocks and bonds, and U.S. Treasury notes.  If any of these accounts currently have designated beneficiaries, bring that information as well.

Gather all retirement savings information, including 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, IRAs, life insurance policies, Social Security statements, and pension information.  Make sure you have the account names, account numbers, current balances, outstanding loan balances, and currently named beneficiaries.

If any family members owe you debts, compile that information.

Questions to Think About
The following are some of the first questions your estate planning attorney will ask.  You are not required to have answers ready for all these questions, but because some of them are complex, it is a good idea to think through these issues before your appointment.

  • Who will be beneficiaries of your property?
  • Do you want to bequeath any specific items of property to specific individuals?
  • Is there anyone you do not want to be a beneficiary of any of your property?
  • Do you plan to make any bequests to any nonprofit organizations – university, church, charity, or other organization?
  • Do you know who you want to act as executor of your will?
  • Do you know who you want to act as trustee of any trusts you establish?
  • If you have minor children, who do you want to appoint as guardian?
  • Do you want to make arrangements for your health and financial well-being in the event you become unable to make decisions for yourself?
  • Do you have specific wishes for your funeral?
  • Are you a registered organ donor?

If you are thinking about planning for your estate, congratulations! You are taking the first step towards important organization of your assets, and securing peace of mind. At the Law Office of Joan A. Watters, we understand that in any journey, the first step is often the most difficult one to take. That's why we offer a free initial consultation, so you can begin your estate plan with confidence. During your consultation, we will review your family and financial situation, discuss your wishes, answer your questions and suggest strategies to protect your family, wealth and legacy. Call, or visit us online today to book your appointment, and let us be your guide on the path to security. 
 


Archived Posts

2015
2014
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January
2013


Located in Visalia CA, Joan A. Watters, Esq. Attorney at Law assists clients throughout the Central Valley of California with various estate planning and elder law. Areas include but are not limited to Visalia, Exeter, Tulare, Hanford, Bakersfield, Lemoore, Three Rivers; and the surrounding counties of Tulare, Kings, and Kern.



© 2019 Joan A. Watters, Esq., Attorney at Law | Disclaimer
220 South Mooney Blvd., B, Visalia, CA 93291
| Phone: 559-635-1775 | 800-403-5029

Estate Planning | Estate Planning with Wills | Trusts & Estate Planning | Estate Planning/Non-Traditional Families | Advanced Estate Planning | Planning for Children | Family Limited Partnerships | Special Needs Planning | Guardianships | Asset Protection | Probate / Estate Administration | Business Succession Planning | Elder Law | FAQs | Fees

FacebookLinked-In CompanyYouTube

Law Firm Website Design by
Zola Creative