Nicole T. Livingston, Esq.
What to Expect at Your First Estate Planning Appointment
Taking the first step to meet with an attorney to discuss your estate planning is a big deal. You may have begun by Googling different websites, talking to friends or family members, or attending an estate planning seminar. Our firm offers estate planning workshops hosted at a variety of venues, including webinars. We are hosting an upcoming webinar on October 14th, 2021 called "Estate Planning Essentials." Our website is also a great resource for answers to basic questions.
At your first estate planning appointment, you should expect to discuss your family and your assets. It may be hard to talk about personal family dynamics; however, the information is essential to properly plan your estate. Your attorney needs to know about circumstances like estranged children, or children with drug or alcohol addiction. Information you disclose to your attorney is covered by the attorney-client privilege and will remain confidential. Your attorney will offer suggestions as how to best plan for difficult circumstances.
Estate planning is about titling of assets and beneficiary designations. We need to ask you how your assets are currently titled and who the beneficiary is on your accounts. Providing a list of your assets and the approximate value would be beneficial to start the conversation. Beneficiaries may be out of date, which is common and require updating. As part of the estate planning process, your attorney will work with you to complete the beneficiary forms and title your assets so that they are distributed according to your wishes. When major events occur such as death, divorce, or marriage, you may need to revisit the beneficiary designations. Often the beneficiary you name on an account will overrule your Last Will & Testament or Revocable Trust.
The first appointment will often end with your attorney providing a recommendation to you for your estate planning. We don’t have a one size fits all approach, each plan is customized based on the client's specific situation and goals. After the first meeting, you can decide whether or not to move forward with the planning. Taking the first step and meeting with an attorney is a huge accomplishment.