Usually people have come to a point in their life where they realize that they need to have some plan in place; otherwise, they either don’t know what’s going to happen to their assets once they are gone, or they are afraid that their assets are going to someone they don’t want them going to. You may have a child with a severe drug addiction and are worried that if something were to happen to you, your child would essentially take all the money and become worse in their drug addiction habit. In that case, you’d want to have something in place to protect your child from self-destructive behavior.
What Are The Common Mistakes That People Make In Estate Planning?
Quite frankly, one of the biggest is doing things on their own. If you have either no assets or very little assets, it’s absolutely okay to do things on your own as far as estate planning is concerned, but the moment you have anything of significant value, such as a house, a 401 (k) with more than 5 digits, a retirement plan or a life insurance policy that’s worth more than $20,000 or $30,000, you really have to get professional help. The reason for this is because there are horror stories about people who have tried to do things on their own, thought that they knew what they were doing and ended up making a bigger disaster of their estate than they could possibly imagine, which ended up costing them 10 or 20 times more than if they would have done it right.
This is because when you are gone, if there are significant assets, the family will fight over them if the distribution isn’t clear. If it’s not done correctly, there can be a very large dispute, and it’s simply good to avoid that if you can just set things up properly. So the biggest mistake is not getting professional help.
What Documents Should I Bring To An Initial Consultation With An Estate Planning Attorney?
We are going to need full names, dates of birth, Social Security Numbers and a list of assets; we don’t need to know all of the specifics right away, but it’s good to have a general idea. For example, if you have a house, it’s good to know approximately what you think it’s worth and why you think it’s worth that amount. If there is a mortgage on the house, we need to know the approximate balance. If you have a 401(k) IRA, a 403(b) program, any type of college savings plans, a brokerage or investment account, we would need to know who they are with and their approximate values.
We’d also need to know if you have a life insurance policy, what the face value of that policy is and what type of insurance policy it is, whether it’s a whole life, universal life, variable universal life or simply a trump policy. We’d like to know who your accountant is and your investment advisor so we can keep them in the loop for when we make changes to your plan so everybody is on the same page as far as your estate is concerned. We need to know how many kids you have, their full names, their Social Security Numbers and their dates of birth. We also want to know, or at least have an idea, who you want to put in charge of your estate when you are gone.
If you have minor children, we want to know who should raise them for you if you are gone. Those are the big key elements that we need in our first meeting so that we can make sure that we get the critical elements of the estate plan put into place.
Why Is The Initial Consultation With An Estate Planning Attorney So Important?
It’s really important because we can get down to the nuts and bolts of it and see what you want to accomplish. Some people come into our office and have no children. They simply want to leave everything they have to a charity; sometimes they know exactly what charity it is, sometimes there are 10 different charities, and sometimes they want to create their own foundation so that their name can be held in memoriam for what they’ve done for other people.
Do you want your kids to have so much money that they will never work or do you want them to just get enough that they will still work and be a benefit to society in general? What is it you want? What’s the legacy you want to leave behind? Do you want to simply leave everything to one person? What is it you want to do? That’s why the meeting is important because we don’t know what your goals are. We can look at your assets and protect them. We can make sure the government doesn’t get anything or as little as possible. The truth is we want to further your goals and your desires. How can we help you to leave a legacy? That’s what we want to do. We want to create a plan that will accomplish what you want to do.
For more information on Setting Up An Estate Plan, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 676-5506 today.