Estate Planning Checklist: How to Prepare for Your First Consultation

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What happens if you die without a will?

For two-thirds of Americans, the court will decide.

If you die intestate (without a will), it’s up to the court to decide who your beneficiaries are and what they receive.

But what if you want your assets divided differently? Or simply want to make the process easier for your grieving loved ones?

That’s where estate planning services can help. Estate planning can ensure that your plans are carried out and that your family, friends, or favorite charity can benefit.

Take the items on this estate planning checklist with you to your first consultation, and you will have an easier time with your estate planning.

Contact Information

It may seem obvious, but you need to have updated contact information for yourself, your family, and your beneficiaries. This info should include full names, dates of birth, phone numbers, and addresses.

Marital Status

During your estate planning meeting, inform your attorney of your current marital status, as well as any previous marriages. Laws vary from state to state. If you and your current partner are not married, they may not automatically inherit your estate.

Likewise, inform them of any children or stepchildren you have. If you have a prenuptial, inform them of this too.

List of Financial Accounts and Assets

An estate planner will also need to know what financial accounts you have. This includes the name of the financial institutions, the types of accounts, approximate value, and what beneficiaries are listed on the account.

You should also let them know of any non-liquid assets. Non-liquid assets include any vehicles you own (such as cars, RVs, and motorcycles), real estate holdings (such as a primary residence, vacation cabin, or other property), art, jewelry, and collectibles.

Basically, a non-liquid asset is an asset that can’t be quickly converted to cash. These are the opposite of your financial accounts, which are liquid assets.

Business Ownership Interests

If you’re a small business owner or have a stake in a business partnership, you need a plan for business succession. Bring essential documents such as articles of incorporation with you.

If you own any patents, trademarks, or copyrights, bring your registration certificates with you. Likewise, if you have any stock certificates, bring those with you too, so that your shares can be transferred to your trust.

Ask What to Include in Your Estate Planning Checklist

Ultimately you can always plan for your first consultation by reaching out to an estate planning lawyer and asking them what you should bring to your first consultation. They can give you more info on what to bring to your first consultation, and they will be familiar with your state’s unique laws.

Start With This Estate Planning Checklist

No one likes thinking about their own mortality. It can be daunting dealing with those emotions while also trying to plan for the future. However, this estate planning checklist should give you a good idea of what information is needed to get started when consulting an estate lawyer.

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