Estate planning allows you to ensure your family and loved ones are taken care of after you’re gone. It’s a complicated process, though, which is why it’s wise to consult an attorney. A lawyer can guide you through every stage to confirm you cover all your bases.
Of course, before they can do so, your attorney will have to know the major players in your life. This includes your spouse, children, parents, siblings, friends, any pets you have, and any charities or causes you support.
Your estate planning lawyer will also need to have a clear picture of your financial situation. For example, how much income do you make? How much do you spend on living expenses? Do you have debt? Do any assets need protection against creditors or lawsuits?
If you find the thought of tackling all these logistics overwhelming, don’t worry. By taking a few simple steps to prepare for your initial consultation, you can ensure your attorney has almost everything they need to get your estate plan off the ground. Read on to learn what those steps are:
1. Compile Documents That Support What You’ll Be Telling Your Legal Team
You may already be aware that you should bring a list of all your assets and liabilities to the estate planning meeting, but it is also helpful to bring along a list of dependents and beneficiaries.
You should bring any legal documents in progress, as well, so your attorney can see what has already been accomplished. If there are any insurance policies or debts that need attention, these should be brought up during the meeting, too, so they can be included in the discussion.
2. Consider How You Want Your Property Divided
The first step in preparing your estate plan is deciding how you want your property divided. The best way to do this is by writing down all the people who could be affected by your decisions, along with their needs and wishes.
3. Consider Who Will Care for Your Children
There are a few ways to ensure the ongoing care of your children. One approach is naming a guardian who will be responsible for making decisions on behalf of your children if something happens to you before they reach adulthood.
Some parents choose to appoint multiple guardians, so each one has some authority, but no single person controls everything. It’s wise to write down a list of all potential guardians before your first meeting.
Another option is to set up an irrevocable trust, which allows a trustee (usually someone other than yourself) to manage the assets in the trust until your children turn 18. At that point, the assets pass on directly into the children’s control, without needing any additional action from anyone else.
Call 231-946-0700 to Discuss Your Case with a Michigan Estate Planning Lawyer
In the end, estate planning is an opportunity to make sure your loved ones are taken care of after you’ve passed. Preparing for this process can be difficult and stressful, but it doesn’t have to be.
The team at Smith & Johnson can lead the way while making sure you account for all eventualities. We have been representing clients since 1965. Call 231-946-0700 or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free initial consultation with an estate planning attorney in Michigan.