By: Verena Meiser, Esq.
New clients often wonder what to expect from their first meeting with their estate planning attorney and how to prepare for the meeting. Whether you already have an estate plan or are ready to set up your first estate plan, expect to have an open conversation with your estate planning attorney that will allow you to share about you, your family, your property, your concerns and planning goals. Your attorney has to keep everything you share confidential.
To help their new clients prepare for the first meeting, most attorneys have a questionnaire that helps their clients organize contact information for family members, as well as bank and investment accounts, life insurance and retirement account information. If your attorney does not send you a questionnaire, collect such information, as you are likely asked for it during your first meeting. A copy of your current beneficiary designations for life insurance policies and retirement accounts also provides important information and is probably available online. In addition, your attorney will take into consideration a buy-sell agreement for a business, a divorce agreement (in particular, if you are required to provide support to a former spouse or child), and any prenuptial agreement you and your spouse signed.
If you already have estate planning documents, provide copies to your attorney, since they will establish the starting point for any updates to your estate plan. Typically, such documents include an existing will, trust, living will, advance directive or powers of attorney.
Congratulations for taking the important step of setting up that first meeting with a new estate planning attorney. It promises to be the start of a comfortable, lasting relationship, as you and your attorney will maintain and update your estate plan over the years.
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