Let’s just say it here. Beginning the estate planning process is not easy because it means contemplating your own death. We get it. Choosing to get your affairs in order and scheduling that initial meeting takes courage. So, congratulations on getting started! Here are some steps you can take to keep the momentum going and chart a course for smooth sailing ahead.
Start by reading the intake questionnaire.
After you’ve scheduled your first estate planning appointment, the attorney’s office will probably send you an intake questionnaire. This form is confidential and probably overwhelming. So, start with a simple read-through. This will give you an idea of all the information that your attorney will need to make the best possible estate planning recommendation for your situation.
Once you’ve read through it, you can start the process of completing the form. Give yourself at least a week for the process so you can be accurate and thorough. Some attorneys request the form be returned before the appointment, so be mindful of your timeline.
Collect all your paperwork.
Start with a list of all the documents your attorney will need to create your estate plan and bring the list to your appointment. While you don’t have to bring all the documents to that first appointment, the sooner you can provide them, the better. Consider these starting points for creating the list of documents you may need to gather:
- What real estate do you own?
- List all your financial accounts and stock holdings
- If you own a business, what documents and agreements support this?
- Do you own any intellectual property?
- List all life Insurance policies
- Have you already done some estate planning?
- What contracts or agreements have you signed?
- Are you divorced?
- Have you signed a prenuptial agreement?
- List your digital assets
Think about who you want to make decision for you.
An important part of estate planning is deciding who will be your fiduciaries and make decisions for you—maybe even if you’re still alive but become incapacitated—as well as after you pass away. It’s also a good idea to name alternates. The responsibility is significant. If you don’t have someone who is both appropriate and willing to take on the role of fiduciary or don’t want to ask, talk to your attorney about using a professional fiduciary.
Consider how you want pass along your property.
Like everything else on this prep list, give yourself some time to really mull this over. Some people know exactly how they want to distribute their property after death, but many do not. And that’s OK too. An experienced estate planner knows how to guide you through the decision-making process.
And, most importantly, prepare a list of your questions!
Preparing for your first appointment will probably raise a lot of questions. It should because estate planning is probably not something you do every day. But your estate planning attorney does. So, while you’re thinking about your property and decision makers and collecting your documents, collect your questions too! Your questions are important and essential to the estate planning process. Write them down as they come to you so you can get the answers you need.
Corning New York Estate Planning Attorneys
Starting the estate planning process may be challenging, but you’ve got this! By preparing for your initial appointment and communicating with your attorney, you’ll be contributing to a positive and productive experience. You can count on Roth Elder Law, PLLC to provide the utmost in professionalism. Call us today to schedule an initial meeting at 607-962-6162 or complete this intake form and we’ll be in touch.