Many people have put off doing their estate planning for a variety of reasons. Certainly, it's not usually enjoyable to discuss one's own passing. But many people also put off this task because they don't know where to start or what's involved. To help you get started on your own estate planning with your attorney, here's what you need to know about how long you might expect to spend working on it and how the process will look.
1. Introductory Meetings
You'll probably spend your first attorney meeting talking about your situation and what you're looking for. The attorney will ask a lot of questions to get an idea of what your estate may look like. Since people are not generally familiar with the work, the attorney will also outline their specific process so you know what to expect. They will usually give you homework to prepare for the next meeting.
2. Gathering Information and Making Decisions
This meeting is the meat of the process. You'll bring in all the specific details you can obtain about your assets and liabilities, as well as the identity of your heirs. You may have already been asked to decide things like who will be guardians of minor children or who you wish to name as your executor. This part can be complex, so you may need more than one single meeting to get all the relevant data.
The attorney's team will then go over with you the best options for achieving your estate goals. They may explain revocable and nonrevocable trusts, for example, or temporary and durable powers of attorney. While the legal pros offer their expertise, remember that you are ultimately in control of your own estate. Their goal is to execute your vision.
3. Going Over Drafts
The attorney then starts the bulk of their work. They may need a few weeks to turn your decisions and information into a draft of actual documents. Then, you will meet to go over these. Ask questions so you understand the details of your document. If elements need to be changed, this is the time to have that done. Then, the attorney will produce a final draft.
4. Signing and Funding
Finally, you'll sign your estate planning documents following the inheritance rules of your state. If you opted to include such things as a living trust or donor-advised funds, you will also need to fund these entities by legally transferring assets into them.
Where to Start
When broken down into its parts, estate planning doesn't have to be overwhelming. The hardest part is often the first step: meeting with an attorney. Make an appointment today to start learning more about how they can help you get this vital task done and protect yourself and your family.
For more information, contact a local law firm, like Southern California Law Advocates.