Eleven Things

  ...Before Meeting with an Estate Planning Lawyer

1. Guardians

If you have minor children, who should be the guardian(s) of your children. Consideration should be given to those individuals who share your values and who will raise your children in accordance with your wishes.

2. Beneficiaries

To whom or to what organizations do you want to leave your property?

3. Trusts

Do you want to leave your property to your beneficiaries outright or in trust? If you decide to create a trust for your children, at what age do you want your children to receive the property outright? Who should receive the property on the termination of the trust if your child is not living?

4. Executors

Whom do you want to name as executor (and successor executor) under your Will? An executor's role is to probate the Will, collect the assets of the estate and pay any liabilities, pay estate taxes, invest the assets during the period of estate administration, and distribute the assets to your beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of your Will.

5. Trustees

Whom do you want to name as trustee(s) (and successor trustee) of any trusts under your Will? A trustee's role is to invest the assets of the trust, pay the trust's income taxes, and, most importantly, to determine when a distribution should be made to a beneficiary of the trust.

6. Life Insurance

Who is the beneficiary of your life insurance? Do you have enough life insurance? Should you create a life insurance trust?

7. Retirement Plan Assets

Who are the beneficiaries (and contingent beneficiaries) of your retirement plan assets (e.g. IRA's, 401(k's), pension plans)? Do you want your beneficiaries to receive these assets outright or in trust?

8. Gifts

Are there individuals and charities that you would like to benefit now? Do you feel comfortable making gifts of your assets today? Do you want to make gifts outright or in trust?

9. Assets and Liabilities

What are your assets and liabilities? You should compile a list of all of your assets and liabilities and how the assets are titled.

10. Health Care Proxy

Whom do you want to designate as your health care agent to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are in a vegetative state?

11. Power of Attorney

Whom do you want to name as your attorney-in-fact to make financial decisions on your behalf either because you are unable to take care of a matter or because you are under a disability?