Preparing to Draft Your Estate Plan

Estate Planning Lawyer

Estate Planning Lawyer

Preparing a will makes it easier for your friends and family to settle your estate upon your death. While it may seem like an overwhelming task, doing some preparation before you meet with an attorney can simplify the process. As an experienced and trusted estate planning lawyer can confirm, having a strong sense of your assets, debts, and “wishes” before your consultation can help you to build an estate plan that accurately and completely reflects your needs, desires, and priorities. 

List Out Your Assets

Take an inventory of both your physical and financial assets. If you have specific people you would like to receive them upon your death, make a note of that. A balance sheet can be a helpful tool to prompt you, so that you do not exclude anything or anyone. You could also record a video of physical items and mention who should receive them.

Compile Your Debts

In addition to assets, you should list any outstanding debts on a balance sheet. This can include student loans, mortgages, credit card debt, and automobile loans. Think through any special circumstances that you wish for your loved ones to know – should you pass away before these debts are paid – and include those instructions.

Review Your Beneficiaries

Many account types allow you to designate a beneficiary. Write out a list of all accounts (including retirement, life insurance, mutual funds, stocks, and Health Savings Accounts), and think about who you would like to receive those funds. You can often go directly to the company’s website to update beneficiary information. Giving your attorney a list of these accounts and your beneficiaries for each will be helpful. 

Consider an Executor

Serving as an executor can be a time-consuming and challenging job. Be sure to choose someone who you trust and who has the capacity to settle your estate. You may choose to compensate the executor through your distribution wishes. You can also designate a medical power of attorney to make any health-related decisions should you become incapable of communicating your wishes.

Create a Shared Folder

Once you have your documents compiled, set up a shared folder that your lawyer and executor can access. It can include contacts for any of the accounts you listed under assets or debts. Place a copy of your finalized estate plan in it along with a note where the original can be found. You can also include any special instructions that your legal documents do not cover. Review the folder once a year to make sure everything still aligns with your wishes.

Once you have completed the above actions, you will be prepared to meet with an estate planning lawyer. Preparing before your initial meeting should make the process of creating your estate plan much quicker and smoother.