Tuesday, February 23, 2021
While most initial meetings with an estate planning attorney lead to some questions you probably never considered, there are plenty of ways to prepare for a thoughtful and productive estate planning conference that will help you understand your goals better and be more efficient Result leads time usage with your attorney. Below are suggestions of questions to consider and information to gather before giving your estate planning consultation.
1. Guardians and curators for minor children
If you have minor children (under the age of 18) or intend to have children, you should designate one or more legal guardians who can be named individually or serve as a team. Designating a successor in the event the first guardian is unable or unwilling to serve is a best practice. This question can be one of the most difficult to answer for couples. If you find that you cannot agree, don’t let that stop you from visiting or revisiting your estate plan. Your estate planning attorney can provide suggestions. When giving your children’s guardian a say, it is preferable for a court to rule without your direction. For general considerations on choosing a guardian and legal guardian, see our Notice on Choosing a Guardian and Legal Guardian for Underage Children.
2. Trustees, personal representatives and agents under permanent authority
Your assets can be managed by the agent under your power of attorney (if you are incapacitated) or by the personal representative of your estate (after your death). In addition, the trustee of your living trust is authorized to handle all of the trust’s assets in the event of death or incapacity for work. It is very common for these three roles to be filled by the same trustees.
3. Name of the patient advocate and living will
A patient advocate is appointed to make medical decisions for you when you are unable to do so, including fulfilling your wishes as described in your will.
4. Personal property
If there are special items of tangible personal property (e.g. cars, clothing, jewelry, works of art, collectibles, etc.) that you would like to give to someone other than a surviving spouse (or if there is no surviving spouse) create one List the items and who should receive them before your meeting to give to specific people instead of dividing them as evenly as possible among the surviving children.
5. All other properties
Are there any residual goods that you would like to pass on to someone other than a surviving spouse (or, if there is no surviving spouse, any surviving children)? Examples of this include business interests and real estate.
6. Charitable bequests
Are there any charitable bequests you’d like to give?
7. Distributions to beneficiaries
- When and how should the beneficiaries receive? In the event that the property should go to surviving children (or other families such as grandchildren, nieces or nephews), feel comfortable if your beneficiaries receive their entire share from the age of 18, or you want to postpone the distribution until later ? A trust may provide for the use of the assets by the beneficiaries at the discretion of a trustee (whom you choose) so that the beneficiaries can use the property without the absolute right to withdraw it. At what age do you want to make distributions with this setup? Any number of age groups can be specified, e.g. B. 1/3 each at the age of 25, 30 and 35, with the option of earlier access to funds for approved expenses such as tuition or health needs.
- Balance parts. Other considerations include whether you want to offset as much as possible for certain lifetime gifts to beneficiaries or special distributions of personal or other property. For parents who intend to pay for “big ticket” costs such as college tuition and weddings for their children, trade-offs can be built into the trust so that younger children are not neglected if the parents insist on paying those costs for older ones Children, but before these younger child costs were paid.
- Other considerations. It’s important for your estate planning attorney to know if any of your beneficiaries have special needs, are receiving (or likely to receive) state means-tested benefits, are likely to get divorced in the future, have an addiction, are or have been previously incarcerated or have problems with Have creditors.
If you have pets, who should be named to look after them and will you leave trust funds for their continued care? Will the trustee be the same as the caregiver, or should they be different people (or institutions)? If you have multiple pets, should they stay together? For more information on pet trusts, please visit our pet trust practice page.
9. “Ultimate Takers”
If none of your intended beneficiaries survived, who would receive your estate? People often consider parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, and charities.
10. Information to be Collected
- Information about your assets. It is seldom necessary to have a full bank statement balance for all of your assets. However, knowing what types of assets you have and what your total net worth is in order to plan your wealth properly is very important. When you know your total net worth, your estate planning attorney can assess the need for estate tax, gift, and transfer tax planning that will reduce or eliminate these tax liabilities. Knowing what types of assets you have and how certain types of assets relate to your entire estate, your estate planning attorney can: 1) provide instructions on how to properly “fund” your trust; 2) assess possible income tax and capital gains tax liability; 3) assessing liquidity concerns regarding rebates and tax liabilities; and 4) plan for special types of assets such as qualifying retirement plans (IRA and 401 (k) plans).
- Contact information for beneficiaries and trustees. Collect addresses and telephone numbers for children and other beneficiaries as well as for all persons you designate as trustees, personal representatives, representatives under permanent power of attorney, patient advocates, as well as guardians and guardians of minor children.
- Previous estate planning documents. Gather your existing estate planning documents, including trusts, wills, standing powers, patient advocate designations and wills, deeds and / or land contracts, and assignments of interest, as appropriate.
- Other documentation. Other important documents that you need to provide your estate planning attorney with are company agreements and purchase / sale agreements for companies you are interested in, and divorce papers.