Preparing for Your Initial Consultation
New clients to our firm will receive a Welcome Kit from our office prior to your initial consultation. Included in this Kit are several forms we ask, to the best of your ability, to review and complete before our initial meeting. These are the Estate Planning Questionnaire, Summary of Assets (Table A), Selection of Key Personnel (Table B), Information Regarding Deeds and Supporting Documents Checklist. You may access the forms here:
The PDF version of the forms may be printed for you to complete and return to our office, or you may open the fillable form and complete the form by typing in the requested information.
- Estate Planning Questionnaire – Married [PDF]
- Estate Planning Questionnaire – Single [PDF]
- Estate Planning Questionnaire [Fillable Form]
- Summary of Assets [PDF]
- Summary of Assets [Fillable Form]
- Information Regarding Deeds [PDF]
- Information Regarding Deeds [Fillable Form]
- Supporting Documents Checklist [PDF]
Note: PDF files require Adobe Reader available online at Adobe.com.
These documents are designed to help focus your thoughts on the planning process, and gather important facts and documents. Please note the Summary of Assets form (Table A) at the above link is designed to be printed on a standard size piece of paper. If that form is too small, you may complete the Summary of Assets you will receive from our office via mail. That form is on a large sheet of paper so that it is easier for you to complete and all of your assets are listed on one page.
There is no need to go on a "treasure hunt" at this point for financial or legal documents, stock certificates or insurance policies. Sometimes we find clients procrastinate in getting their planning done because they cannot locate, or do not have time to locate, all of these documents. Do bring to the initial conference those documents which you can readily locate. Others that may be needed we can discuss during our first meeting. Instead, devote most of your efforts before your appointment contemplating the Three P's of Estate Planning.
Understanding the Three P's of Estate Planning
#1 – People
Who are the Important People in your life?
Beginning with yourself, they also likely include your loved ones: your spouse if you are married, children and grandchildren if you have any, perhaps your parents, siblings or other relatives. Beyond these, however, "Important People" also may include charities, special causes, colleges or universities, or religious organizations to which you are committed. Spend some time thinking about the impact others have had on your life. Make a list and jot notes if you like. This is where the planning process truly begins.
#2 – Property
By Property we mean your assets in general.
Make a list of the assets you own or control and include them on our Summary of Assets (Table A). At this point, you do not need to identify insurance policy numbers and exact dollar values. Rather think through your assets in terms of their nature (cash, stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.); their value in thousands of dollars; and your ownership interest: Do you own assets in your name only, in joint tenancy with someone else, or through a trust agreement or some other arrangement? Be sure to include often-overlooked assets like life insurance (the death benefit, not the cash value), business interests, and any inheritance you may expect to receive.
#3 – Plans
After identifying the Important People in your life and your Property, the next step is to consider the plans you would like to make for those people (including yourself) and that Property in the event of your own incapacity or death.
Who would you name to make decisions for you if you could no longer do so yourself? Would the same person handle your finances and your personal and health care decisions? Who would care for your minor children? How would you distribute your assets to your heirs or others? Would you prefer to spare your heirs the cost and hassles of the probate process? Would you like to minimize the impact of estate taxes...or maximize the impact of a charitable bequest? Is there someone in your family with special needs for whom you would like to provide? Is there someone who perhaps should not receive a great deal of money without some outside oversight?
These are just a few of the issues to consider when approaching the estate planning process. They are much more important than the "treasure hunt" for legal documents at this stage.
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