Planning for the future is not a simple task. Understandably, it may be difficult to make decisions regarding your own death or incapacitation. While it may be tempting to create an estate plan on your own, many issues can arise in attempting to complete an estate plan with no guidance. The complexities of asset ownership, preferences for distribution, and legal requirements can all affect the validity of estate planning documents. An estate planning professional can significantly facilitate the process, allowing you to create a reliable, comprehensive estate plan your loved ones will deeply appreciate. You may find this to be a treasure in itself.
Provide a copy of your existing estate planning documents when consulting with your estate planning professional. Whether you previously created these documents with another’s assistance or drafted them on your own, it is essential to provide your estate planning professional with the full picture of your estate plan. Consequently, it may be decided that these documents require revisions or updates.
If you do not yet have any existing estate planning documents, a professional may specify which items you must bring to an estate planning meeting. Oftentimes, it will be necessary to complete a preliminary questionnaire in preparation of your consultation, which is vital when outlining which documents will form your estate plan.
Marriage and Separation Documents
If applicable, be sure to bring copies of documents relating to current and previous marriages or spouses which could affect estate planning arrangements. This may include, but is not limited to:
Marital property agreements
Pre- or post-nuptial agreements
Death certificates (if widowed)
Regardless of whether you have completed your estate plan or have yet to begin crafting these documents, it is suggested to keep a list of all items in your estate along with authentication of ownership. Property owners may provide an original or copy of the deed for any properties owned. Your estate also encompasses assets other than real estate. Vehicles, financial accounts, and family heirlooms are also subject to distribution in the event of your death. Keeping an accurate and up-to-date record of your possessions will further facilitate the process of creating an estate plan.
Aside from listing the assets under your ownership, it may be helpful to bring documents that affect your estate or beneficiaries. These documents may include:
Child support judgments
Business agreements, succession plans, and buyouts
Trust agreements in which you are a beneficiary
Every situation is unique. As it relates to estate planning, your particular set of circumstances has an effect on the documents that will form your estate plan. If you are unsure about a particular document or aspect of estate planning, come prepared with a list of questions to ask your estate planning professional.