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Preparing for Your First Meeting with Your Estate Planning Attorney

Putting together your estate plan can be a daunting endeavor but with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney, the process will be easier than you think, especially if you are properly prepared for your first meeting.  Your estate planning lawyer will guide you through each of the decisions you will need to make in order to end the process with all the necessary legal documents.

Putting some thought into the following areas before your first meeting with your estate planning attorney will make the most productive use of your time.  To make the first meeting with your attorney as productive as possible, here are some tips to help you prepare:

  1. Start by creating a list of all your assets including your home, bank accounts, investments, valuable personal belongings like jewelry or artwork, business interests, and insurance policies. Your attorney will also want to know the approximate value or current balance for each asset as well as if the accounts are owned entirely by you or shared with one or more other individuals.  This list will allow your estate planning attorney to determine which tax strategies will provide you with the best savings.
  2. Think about your personal belongings and determine if there are specific items you would like to leave to a particular person. The sentimental value attached to certain items can be high so it is important to put some thought into who should receive what.  Some of the worst family disagreements begin with arguments over items that have no monetary value but hold a lot of sentimental worth so be sure to consider this carefully.
  3. Begin to think about who will be best suited to be the executor of your estate. His or her duties will include collecting your assets, paying any outstanding debts, expenses or taxes that may be owned and then distributing your assets as directed in your estate plan.
  4. Determine who will make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. You will need to name an agent who will be responsible for making healthcare decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so.  Put some thought into who this person should be and who could be his or her successor.
  5. Think about who will look after your financial affairs if you become unable to do so yourself. As with your medical care, you will need to appoint someone to act as an agent of your financial matters if you become incapacitated.

It is easy to get overwhelmed when considering all these decisions but your estate planning attorney will be able to explain the above matters in more detail when you meet with him or her.  The purpose of this list is to get you thinking about the choices you will need to make before the meeting while you have time to prepare.  Reflect on the issues in advance in order to make the most of your time with your estate planning attorney.

To discuss your specific needs and to find out how an estate planning lawyer in Pittsburgh can help you, please call us at Fingeret Law (412.281.8222) or contact us online.