As an estate planning law firm, we are not only well-versed in the law. We’re trusted advisers. And any adviser needs information to thoroughly analyze your situation and develop the best strategies for you. So, when you meet with an estate planning attorney for the first time, what information should you bring with you?
Your attorney will need to be able to reach you so make sure you provide your current contact information. And remember to keep your attorney apprised if you move or travel between homes.
Your attorney will also need to have the addresses and phone numbers for people you select as beneficiaries, executors, trustees, and agents. In some cases, state law requires that addresses and phone numbers for agents appear in estate planning documents. Occasionally, estate distribution may be held up because heirs cannot be located easily.
Before coming to your appointment, take a few moments to assess your assets. Do you have personal items that have sentimental value to someone in your life? Are there family heirlooms that need to be passed to your descendants. Bringing specific information about items that may make up your specific bequests helps your attorney prepare the right plan for you.
You may feel a little uncomfortable discussing your finances with your attorney. To completely assess the type of estate plan you need, though, your attorney does need to see some pretty specific information about your financial accounts and assets.
The size of your estate can make a big difference in the strategies your attorney develops for you. For example, the size of your estate will determine whether you need a plan that reduces your tax burden. A few years ago, the IRS estate tax exemption limit for estates changed from what was once $1 million to over $5 million. Since the exemption is indexed to inflation, that amount will change periodically. Your attorney needs to know if the value of your estate puts you in danger of paying estate tax. In addition, your attorney needs to understand if you have designated beneficiaries directly on certain assets, e.g. life insurance policies and IRA’s, since those designations will supersede directives within a Will or Trust.
Rest assured, though. Maintaining confidentiality of clients’ information is one of the most important duties an attorney owes to clients. At Law Offices of John Mangan, P.A., we do not take that duty lightly. We routinely collect and safeguard our clients’ most sensitive data.
Meeting with an attorney doesn’t have to be stressful. Providing detailed information to your attorney makes your estate planning process more efficient. And once it is done, you can have peace of mind knowing that you’ve taken care of your loved ones.
If you’ve already taken the step of calling Law Offices of John Mangan, P.A., for an appointment, thank you. If you have not, please contact us at 772-324-9050 or by using our Contact Form. We assist clients throughout Florida, including Martin and St. Lucie Counties, and look forward to helping you with your estate planning needs.