Happy New Year everyone! This time of year, we see an influx of estate planning clients. Most people’s New Year’s resolutions include getting their affairs in order. So, once you decide to take the first step and meet with an attorney, how do you decide which plan is right for you? My answer… it depends. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to estate planning. Below are some of the things I discuss with a client to determine which estate planning documents are appropriate.
Once of the factors we discuss is the client’s family. This can be tricky to navigate. I look at whether a client has a blended family and what the family dynamics are. We also determine if a client has minor children and if we need to do any preneed guardianship planning. Some other questions I ask are: Does a client have a special needs child who requires care once they pass? Will the person or persons inheriting from a client’s estate be responsible to handle an inheritance, or do we need to do additional planning to protect them?
Another factor I look at are a client’s assets. This includes real property, personal property, and that Precious Moments collection from Grandma. We address how property is titled and if the property is financed. Another topic that may need to be addressed is if the client owns property in another state as probate rules and procedures vary between states.
Another important factor I discuss with the client is who they wish to put in charge to carry out their wishes. We encourage our clients to have this discussion with the person or persons prior to executing their estate planning documents. Naming someone as a Trustee, Personal Representative, Power of Attorney, or Healthcare Surrogate is a big job requiring this person or persons to make difficult decisions. It is important this person or persons understand what they are being asked to do and if they are comfortable making these decisions.
These are just a few things to consider when beginning the estate planning journey. I am here to assist clients from start to finish including any changes in between.