If you are overwhelmed by the thought of gathering the details and documents necessary for your first meeting with an estate planning attorney, take a deep breath. An experienced professional in the field will put you at ease, whether you’ve done any previous homework or not. It’s a good idea, however, to have a sense of what your initial consultation will be like, both to relieve any anxiety and to give you a headstart in finding the deed to your house (Hmm…Is it in the safe deposit box or in the file cabinet?).
We Set the Tone for Easy Conversation
At Surprenant & Beneski, we take an informal approach to our clients. Realizing that you will be sharing confidential information with us, we want to make you as comfortable as possible. As any of the clients we have worked with for years will report, we are friendly, non-judgemental and supportive, and will provide you with the personal attention you deserve.
We know that you must be in a safe place to be able to freely discuss your family, your finances, and your health as well as your goals for, and concerns about, the future. No matter how routine you may think your situation is, there will always be unique elements that set you apart and must be addressed.
The Documents We Need to Get Started with Your Estate Plan
Of course, we will need certain documents to create a sturdy estate plan so we will ask you to bring the following documents, if possible, to our initial consultation:
- Deed to your home
- Current financial statement
- Most recent bank statements
- Most recent statements of investment/retirement accounts
- Any previous estate planning documents
- Any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements
- Copies of retirement plans, annuity contracts
- Copies of life insurance policies
Please don’t worry if you are missing one or more of these documents. Over time, even essential papers can be misplaced or even accidentally discarded. In most cases, copies of such documents are available. We will help you collect them by telling you which financial institutions or government agencies will likely be able to provide them.
We Will Also Need Contact Information
In addition to the documents listed above, it will be useful for us to have clearly written or typed contact information for your other professional advisors, healthcare providers, and individuals you have named to positions of authority, such as your:
- General practice attorney
- Accountant (CPA)
- Insurance broker
- Financial advisor
- Family doctor/pertinent specialists for chronic conditions
- Named trustees, guardians, executors, agents with power of attorney
- Members of your immediate family and other individuals you intend to make designated beneficiaries
Your Input Is the Most Important Information You Can Provide
Apart from gathering the requested information, we will ask you to think about your overall goals for your estate plan. Although it may seem that these are the same for everyone, that is not the case. Examples of the diversity of personal needs and wishes abound:
- Those who do not want or plan to retire
- Those who do not want their children to be primary beneficiaries
- Those who feel that their family members are well-fixed and want to donate the bulk of their assets to a beloved charity
- Those who are majorly concerned with protecting their assets from taxation
- Those whose primary concern is making sure a special needs relative retains government benefits while still receiving funds from the estate
- Those who want their businesses to continue after their death as a legacy
Whether or not you find yourself on this list, you get the idea. It’s important to do some soul-searching before meeting with our estate planning attorneys. We will, of course, discuss your options in-depth when we meet.
Contact Our Experienced Estate Planning Attorneys to Find Out More
The most significant thing you bring to your first meeting with Surprenant & Beneski is the list of your questions and concerns. We know that some of your needs are personal and private and will always treat you with respect. We will do our best to answer all your questions and address all your concerns. We want your first experience with us to be pleasant, efficiently handled, and reassuring. Contact us now so we can begin the estate planning process together.