What to Expect at Your First Meeting with A Delaware Valley Estate Planning Lawyer
Many people put off scheduling a meeting with a Delaware Valley estate planning lawyer because they think they don’t need an estate plan or, more commonly, they find the whole estate planning process to be a bit daunting. We can help by removing some of the mystery from this process. Let’s start at the beginning, by explaining what you can expect at your first meeting with your estate planning lawyer.
Purpose of the Meeting: Gather Information
Your first meeting with your estate planning lawyer is a time for you (and your spouse if you are married) and your lawyer to get to know one another and to exchange information about the estate planning process. After this initial meeting, you should walk away feeling comfortable that your lawyer will be creating an estate plan which is specifically tailored to your needs, wishes and goals.
At this initial meeting, your job is to be honest with your Delaware Valley estate planning attorney about your goals in creating an estate plan and to be open in sharing personal information to allow your lawyer to help you achieve those goals. Specifically, you should be prepared to share with your lawyer information pertaining to:
Your personal history;
Your family history, including the nature of your relationships with family members;
Your wishes for your children;
Your assets and debts; and
Whether you are expecting any inheritances.
In addition, be prepared to discuss:
How you wish your estate to be distributed. For example, who would you like to receive your assets and how would you like to split your estate among those individuals (or charitable organizations). Do you wish to exclude a family member or members? At what age (or ages) would you like your children to receive any proceeds from your estate? Would you like each grandchild to receive a lump sum payment, or would you like for your assets to go to your children first, and then pass to your grandchildren? These are the types of issues your lawyer will raise with you regarding the distribution of your estate.
Who should administer your estate? Ideally, you should identify several individuals, in the event your first choice is unable to carry out this role. A family member or close friend is often appointed to this position, but it could be reserved for a professional fiduciary, who would be paid by your estate to handle administration duties for you.
Who will care for your children after your death? This is not an easy conversation, but it is one you should be prepared to have with your estate planning lawyer at this first meeting.
Your Delaware Valley Estate Planning Lawyer’s Role
Your lawyer will advise you of the different estate planning options available and the legal ramifications of each. For example, a Last Will and Testament and a Revocable Living Trust are two common options. A will and a trust achieve the same result in memorializing your wishes with respect to the distribution of property after death, but a will goes through probate (which makes it a public record), while a trust allows you to bypass the probate process altogether. Different financial consequences or benefits may also exist depending on whether you choose to have a will- or trust-based plan. Your Delaware Valley estate planning lawyer can help you determine the best option for your particular circumstances.
When you are ready to schedule an initial meeting with a Delaware Valley estate planning lawyer, or if you have questions about the estate planning process, contact us. You can reach us by phone, or by email with the form on this page.