The initial estate planning conference with your attorney is very important. This is the first opportunity for you to explain to your attorney your estate planning goals, as well as your assets and liabilities. Your attorney can advise you at this time, and throughout your meeting, as to whether or not an estate plan can be established to meet your specific goals.
This is when a confidential relationship is established between your attorney and you. Bear in mind, this relationship remains confidential even if the estate planning attorney is not retained. In this meeting, you want to openly share with your attorney. This information will allow him or her to quickly ascertain whether or not he or she will be able to help. Your first key question to ask is whether or not your attorney has experience in creating the type of estate plan you need. What you may not realize is that many attorneys today do not specialize in certain estate plans that are specifically designed to meet the legal needs of a certain type of client.
Let us share an example of where you would need an attorney who understands specific types of estate planning. For instance, perhaps the majority of your assets are invested in Individual Retirement Accounts. In that event, your attorney will need to be experienced in drafting specialized IRA trusts that are designed to distribute these unique assets in a manner that does not give rise to immediate income taxation at your death. When it comes to death, and taxes, if your estate planning does not have the requisite knowledge to plan in this area then your estate plan could be at risk.
The second question you may want to ask your attorney is his or her specialized education and training in estate planning. What are his or her focuses in the practice? Does he or she do a little bit of everything or focus only on what you need? Is there a team of attorneys or support staff with significant experience? How many years has the attorney focused on estate planning?
The third question you should consider asking your attorney is the cost of the initial conference and the projected cost for the estate plan you are requesting. While the question of what is this conference and the estate plan going to cost might seem offensive, it is not fair to the attorney to have him or her invest his legal time developing a plan that is not within your budget. The attorney will not be offended and will appreciate your asking this question of cost that should be discussed by the end of the first conference.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers for you. We want to know what they are and encourage you to contact us to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys. Our goal is always to help you create an estate plan that is right for you and your loved ones both now, and in the future.