Meeting with a lawyer to discuss estate planning options and issues is a great first step in the planning process. However, many people wonder how best to approach that first meeting. Are there documents that should be gathered first? Decisions that should be made before walking in the door? Here are some tips to help you prepare for your first meeting with a California estate planning attorney.
- Financial statements: Having an idea of what assets exist, and where those assets are located, is an important starting point for estate planning. Aside from knowing where assets are held and what they are, an estate planning attorney may also ask if accounts have beneficiary designations. Having information available upfront can allow for advice to be more specific and helpful.
- Spouse/partner: Married people, or those in a long-term domestic partnership, may consider attending an estate planning meeting together. This way, both parties can get the same advice at the same time, rather than having to go home and regurgitate the information shared by the attorney.
- Information about the home: Specifically, knowing where the deed to the home is held will be important to the attorney, as well as knowing the names that the mortgage/house is under.
- A list of questions: Every estate planning situation is different. Having background information ready to share, along with key questions, is a great starting point for the attorney. It can also be helpful to include some questions that help you get to know the attorney themselves, to ensure they feel trustworthy and comfortable to help with such an important endeavor.
Those who are unsure how to prepare for their first meeting can always call the office and ask what to expect. Even those with very limited estate planning knowledge should feel comfortable when meeting with an attorney; it is their job to explain things to the client, so ask as many questions as necessary to feel comfortable. Attempting estate planning without a California lawyer can be very complex and legally precarious, so it is a good idea to meet with one early in the process.