5 Tips to Make Estate Planning Easier
Estate planning can be frustrating and scary; a lot of people don’t want to talk about preparing for when they are no longer around.
And while it can be upsetting to some (though not me – I see it as an aspirational opportunity), it’s a necessity, and it’s better to have some kind of plan than none at all.
These five tips are things that if you come to your initial consultation with or do immediately after, will make the process a lot easier on you and your attorney.
Think and Talk About What You Want Before You Talk to an Estate Planning AttorneyThink About Who Your People are Going to Be
With even the most basic plan you are going to have to make these choices:
- Personal Representative;
- Power of attorney (and 1 backup);
- Medical power of attorney (and 1 backup);
- Guardian (and 1 back up) – if you have kids); and
- Health care directive decisions (pull the plug or not?)
Decide who you want to be in charge of your finances and health should you become unable to handle them yourself. Your attorney is going to ask you this and if he/she hasn’t asked you to fill out a questionnaire before the consultation then they will give you one after.
You should already have an idea of who you would want to take care of your children, and make healthcare and financial decisions for you.
Fill Out Any Information Requested of You Beforehand
You will likely be given an “intake form” or “personal information form” before your consultation or immediately after.
If you are given the form before, you should bring the completed form to your consultation, if you are given it after to take home and fill out, then fill it out right away while the conversation that you had with your attorney is still fresh in your mind.
Don’t wait two weeks before you sit down to fill it out, you may have forgotten notes or information you wanted to include.
Create a List of Assets
Have a general list of your assets. This information may or may not be included in the questionnaire but you need to provide your attorney with a general list of what you own and the approximate value.
Do you know property in other states?
Do you own businesses?
Do you have a share in a family cabin or timeshare?
These types of assets can cause complications later if they aren’t known about and could change the type of plan you need.
If you are a doctor, do you own your practice?
All of these are important assets that your estate planning attorney will need to comprehensively prepare your estate plan.
Double Check Your Documents Before Signing
The last step is a little further down the timeline of the estate planning process, but it’s the most important.
Make sure you always check the spelling of the people’s names that you have appointed before you sign documents.
Fixing pages and spelling errors while you are in the office to sign is way easier and more time efficient than you reviewing it at home and having to come back in to re-sign documents.
It may add ten or so minutes to your appointment but that’s a lot less than it would take to come back and do the process again.
And, although we pride ourselves on making zero mistakes with our clients, it’s comforting to know they’ve double-checked our double-check, and everything looks good.
Estate planning doesn’t have to be a difficult process. It truly can be a time to think about the future and plan for the success of your family.
But it really helps if you come to the table prepared.
Christopher is a Bellevue estate planning lawyer with CMS Law Firm LLC. He is a speaker, a blogger, a husband, a father, a golfer, and really good at helping people create the life of their dreams.