Creating an estate plan is one of the most important things you can do to protect you, your family, and your assets. However, even the idea of beginning the process can be daunting. You have to find the right attorney, gather the proper documentation, provide the right information, make important decisions for the future, etc.
Don’t stress! With the right attorney the process of estate planning can be pretty straightforward and painless.
It may vary due to individual needs, but most estate planning processes follow a similar timeline:
- Meet with an Estate Planning Attorney. Often called an initial consultation, this meeting allows both you and the attorney to get to know each other and make sure the attorney-client relationship is the right fit for you and your family. This can be done in-person, on the phone, on a website chat, or even via video conferencing. With modern technology, there are countless ways to meet with an attorney.
- Provide Information. Many estate planning attorneys will ask you to fill out some sort of questionnaire to provide the information necessary to create your documents. Some law firms have fillable PDF questionnaires or online portals that allow the client to provide this information virtually. Required information often includes family names and birth dates, financial information, a list of assets, fiduciary nominations, etc. It is imperative that you provide current and truthful information to your attorney so that your estate planning documents are as accurate as possible.
- Draft The Documents. When your attorney has all the necessary information, they will draft the documents of your estate plan. A comprehensive estate plan often includes:
- Living Trust
- Last Will and Testament
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Health Care Documents, including
- Health Care Power of Attorney
- Living Will
- Deeds for Real Property
- Review. Once the documents are drafted, the attorney can provide them to the client via email or online portal. It is extremely important to review your estate planning drafts to ensure that the information is accurate and reflects your desires.
- Sign the Documents. The documents are often signed in the presence of a Notary Public and at least one witness.
Be sure to keep the estate plan in a safe and secure place, just do not forget about it! A good and effective estate plan is current and up to date. The general recommendation is to review and/or update your estate plan every 3-5 years or at any major life event, such as marriage or having a baby.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney
Whether you are looking to create an estate plan or just have questions about the process, contact an experienced estate planning attorney to learn more.