Some people get nervous before they go see an estate planning attorney for the first time. They don't know what to expect.
Selecting the right estate attorney is important in making sure that your legacy is preserved the right way.
Before we get into which questions you should expect to be asked by your estate planning attorney, let's address some characteristics of an estate attorney that should turn you away.
First, if you find that the attorney talks the entire time during your visit, then stand up an leave. Second, if your attorney speaks in terms you do not understand, get up and leave. And finally, if your attorney is not a good listener, leave.
With that being said, here are some things you should plan to discuss in your initial conversation with your estate planning attorney.
The first question I like to ask, right out of the box, goes something like, "So as we start a conversation about your estate legal program, what kinds of things do YOU want to make sure we discuss?"
Some people have specific things they want to address, such as, a blended family situation, a problem child, specific bequests they want to make, or providing for grandchildren, just to name a few. When a client has specific issues they want to address, we need to drill down on those to make sure the estate program is tailored for their specific needs.
Other people do not have a specific issue they want to address. Perhaps they don't know what to ask and they just want to make sure their estate legal affairs are in order.
In every estate planning conversation, there are discussions about particular issues that each client has, and there are questions that we ask virtually every client. Here's a few of the questions asked of just about every client (assuming a married couple but can be adapted to a single person):
(1) After you both pass, how do you want your estate disbursed?
(2) If you have to put someone in charge of the disbursement, who should it be?
(3) When one of you passes, how do you want to leave things to the surviving spouse? Remarriage is in the back of people's minds during this conversation.
(4) If you become incapacitated while you are alive, who do you want to make your medical and financial decisions?
(5) Do you want to leave bequests through your last will and testament (requires probate), or through your revocable living trust (avoids probate)?
What I have not addressed in this short post are questions related to Medicaid Planning (nursing home poverty), estate tax planning (only affects the super wealthy), charitable bequest planning, and the creation of entities for lawsuit protection purposes (particularly if you own rental property).
The discussion you have with your estate planning attorney about your legacy is an important one. Make sure you work with an attorney who doesn't merely want to hear himself/herself talk. Make sure you work with an attorney who doesn't speak in legal-ese (over your head). And make sure you work with an attorney who listens to what you say so that he or she can ask the next right question - and then listen again!
This post is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Please do not act or refrain from acting based on anything you read on this site. Using this site or communicating with Rabalais Estate Planning, LLC, through this site does not form an attorney/client relationship.
Louisiana Estate Planning Attorney
Phone: (225) 329-2450