Be prepared is the Scout’s motto, but it is also good advice if you are meeting with an estate planning attorney. Below is a list of seven things to bring to your first official estate planning session to make it a more productive and efficient meeting.
1. Any old estate planning documents you plan on updating or revoking. You don’t want to go to all the work of putting together a new plan only to see it ignored because the old documents are found by your loved ones after you die or used by your physician to make healthcare decisions you no longer agree with.
2. A list of the full names and addresses of all of the people and organizations you will be mentioned in your plan. This includes family members and organizations you want to leave money to and people you intend to name as estate administrator, guardian, or power of attorney. This is particularly important if any of the people or organizations are not located in Virginia.
3. Contact information for all of your other professional advisors such as your CPA, insurance brokers, and financial advisors. If you are working with other attorneys on other legal issues, it would be good to provide their contact information as well.
4. Financial documents: Bring a copy of your most recent bank, investment, and retirement account statements.
5. Insurance documents: Gather copies of all of your insurance policies and bring them to the meeting. This includes health, long-term care, auto, and home policies, not just life insurance policies.
6. Legal documents: If you have ever worked with an attorney on anything, you should probably bring the related documents with you. This includes the deeds to property you own, information on past or current lawsuits, prenuptial or marital agreements, divorce decrees, and the governing documents for any businesses you may have an ownership interest in.
7. A written list of your questions and concerns.
This last item is perhaps the most important. Each meeting you have with your estate planning attorney should bring you one step closer toward having a plan that is tailor-made to suit your needs and wishes. If you don’t understand what is going on, or don’t like what is going on, it is important for you to speak up.