Prepare to Meet with an Estate Planning Lawyer
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Prepare to Meet with an Estate Planning Lawyer

To do the best feasible job when preparing your estate plan, an estate planning lawyer is going to require information about you, the assets you have, and more importantly, your estate planning objectives. Collecting as much information as possible prior to your initial meeting is going to expedite the process.

It’s particularly important to understand all the objectives you can achieve in the estate planning process. Transferring tangible property, financial institution accounts, and investment accounts to the ones you love is the clearest objective, but there are many more things you can achieve:

  • Do you want to provide financial support for an individual with a disability or ailment? A special needs trust can accomplish that objective while you are living and following your passing.
  • Individuals of all ages and levels of income should create health care directives to let relatives know about their wishes for medical care and a MPOA to give someone the decision-making authority in case of debilitation.
  • Similarly, would you want an individual to be able to pay your bills and manage your finances should you be unable to do so? Determining a trusted fiduciary that you can give a limited or DPOA can accomplish that.
  • Are you worried that the transfer of your assets could get held up in probate, creating a burden for your family? Establishing a revocable trust is one way of keeping your assets out of probate, however, there are others.
  • Are you wanting to protect assets from taxation throughout your lifetime? An irrevocable trust can accomplish that at the same time keeping your estate out of probate court. An estate planning lawyer is going to be knowledgeable in tax law.

Information for Your Initial Meeting

Prior to your initial estate planning meeting, take some time to think about your objectives and then collect the following information to take with you. The attorney-client relationship you create at this meeting could be one you can depend on for a lifetime.

Family Information

  • Name and date of birth
  • Mailing address
  • Phone numbers
  • E-mail address
  • Do you have a current will(s)? (If yes, provide your lawyer with a copy)
  • Marital status (Usually married, unmarried, widow or widower, divorced, or married individual establishing an individual trust)
  • Children’s names and date of birth (You are going to need to demonstrate if children are adopted, stepchildren, or from a former marriage)
  • Are there deceased children? Did that deceased child leave any children?
  • Were any children receiving an advance on their inheritance or are any children financially in debt to you?
  • Is there a reason to treat your children other than the same?
  • Are any of the children irresponsible financially?
  • Are any of the children disabled?
  • Have you been previously married?
  • If any child should pass away before a parent, should their portion transfer through to their children? (When yes, you are going to need to supply grandchildren’s names and dates of birth)
  • In the event of your passing away, what individual should be the guardian of your minor children? (They will have physical and legal control over your children before they are 18 — you commonly name a first and second selection)
  • Other related family information or additional clarifications of family concerns

Trust Information

  • Do you want to have a trust created for the benefit of your spouse and/or child(ren)?
  • If yes to the above, indicate who the trustee(s) needs to be. (A trustee oversees the assets for your children or other beneficiaries before they reach a particular age. When you don’t create a trust, children inherit at eighteen years of age. You may appoint an individual, financial institution or trust company, or both.)
  • Any conditions of distribution? (Like schooling, marriage, etc.)
  • Ages(s) for allotment to children from the trust (for instance 1/3 at 21 years of age, 1/3 at 25, 1/3 at age 30)

Personal Representative Information

  • Who needs to be the Personal Representative (“executor”) of your estate? (They are accountable for probating your will, paying your liabilities, gathering your assets, and the settlement of your estate.)
  • First selection (Spouse is usually named first)
  • Second selection

Specific Requests

  • Do you want to make a reference in your will to a separate list of any particular inheritances of items of personal belongings that you want to give to children or others? (The benefit of such a list is that it can be altered without changing your will.)
  • Do you want to make any charitable endowments?
  • Do you have a safety deposit box? If so, its location?
  • Does anyone else have access to it?

Other Estate Planning Tools

  • Are you wanting to prepare a FPOA? (This grants another individual the authority to act for you to oversee your assets and pay your bills should you become incompetent or debilitated)
  • Are you wanting to prepare a Health Care Directive (“Living Will”) declaring your preference for health care if you have a terminal disease?
  • If you are carrying out a Living Will or Health Care Directive you are going to need to give your primary doctor’s name and address.
  • Are you wanting to prepare a MPOA granting another person the power to act on your behalf should you become incapable of making medical decisions?
  • Are there any certain requests you want concerning funeral or burial instructions or organ donation? When you do, this is best managed by a Letter of Instruction or other declarations from your will to members of your family or another responsible individual.

Information Concerning Assets

  • Married couples are going to need to specify if they have separate assets or if all assets are jointly held
  • The evaluated net worth of the estate
  • Cash or cash-equivalent accounts held at financial institutions (Usually checking and savings accounts, or deposit certificates, with financial institutions (Usually, savings, and loans, and/or credit unions.)
  • How many separate financial institutions do you have?
  • Do you have a financial advisor, investment consultant, or insurance agent?
  • Are there any investments you have (Usually cash or money fund accounts, or certificates of deposit with financier firms)
  • How many separate financier firms? (Usually bonds, stocks, and mutual funds in which your broker holds the certificates and sends you regular statements presenting your account balance)
  • How many different stock brokerage firms? (Usually, mutual funds in which you deal directly with the issuing firm instead of through your stockbroker)
  • How many different mutual fund firms?
  • Stocks and bonds (other than US Savings Bonds) in which you have the certificates in your possession?
  • How many various issuers? (Usually, US Savings Bonds, treasury bills or other government bonds, or limited liability partnerships)
  • How many limited liability partnerships? (Usually, gas and oil royalties or working interests)
  • How many? (Like gas and oil mineral rights in real estate)
  • How many plots of land?
  • Any additional securities

Retirement Plan Information

  • Any individual retirement accounts (IRAs), Keogh plan, or other singular plans offering tax deferral for deposits and income
  • How many various financial institutions hold IRA accounts for each of the spouses?
  • Any employer-provided profit sharing, retirement, or other benefit plans?
  • How many differing plans for either of the spouses?

Real Estate Information

  • In which state is your personal residence located in?
  • How many different plots of real estate are you the owner of, other than your personal residence?
  • What state(s) are these plots located in?
  • Are you buying any of the a forementioned properties on a contract for deed?

Business Interest Information

  • Are you a business, or are you in a partnership in a business?
  • Is the business incorporated?
  • What number of corporations?
  • What number of corporations are sub-chapter S corporations?
  • Is the business organized as a partnership?
  • What number of partnerships?
  • Is the business a single proprietorship?
  • What number of different firms?

Receivables Information

Usually this is any money indebted to you as a payment on contracts. There may be a requirement that you sell a business, as payment on liabilities secured by real estate, or in which you have loaned money to someone, and you retain a note.

  • Designate each type of liabilities that you hold (Installment contract(s) of sale of personal property, generally bills of exchange secured by real estate, or unsecured bills of exchange)
  • Are there any life insurance policies in place?
  • Indicate the name of the individual insured, the name of the insurance firm, the face amount of the policy, and the type of policy

Annuities Information

  • Name of the annuitant and the kind of annuity?
  • Don’t list annuities through which no benefits are payable following the passing away of the annuitant
  • Are there ordinary annuities payable for a guaranteed minimum period or amount?
  • Are there any tax-deferred annuities?

Personal Belongings Other Than Vehicles, Boats, and Trailers

  • Family furniture and appliances
  • Collections of art, antiques, valuable jewelry
  • Motor home/ RV
  • Business equipment and machinery
  • Personal equipment and tools
  • Farming or ranch equipment and machinery
  • Farm animals

Contact a Lawyer to Get Professional Assistance Planning Your Estate

Your estate planning lawyer can answer essential questions regarding the law and how your case is going to be impacted by your state’s laws. Begin creating your estate plan by getting a hold of a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer near you today.


  1. Staff, F. L. (2022, May 16). Prepare to meet with an estate planning lawyer. Findlaw. Retrieved November 4, 2022, from

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