The process of planning a will is a cause of stress for many people, however it does not have to be. If you come prepared to meet with your attorney with some prior knowledge of what they may ask you, the process can go much smoother and more quickly. These are 5 key questions that any estate planning lawyer will ask when drafting a will, all of which are important.
Planning a will can certainly be a nerve wracking and stressful task to accomplish; you’re deciding how to distribute your assets fairly among your loved ones, stress during this stage is absolutely normal. If you decide to hire an attorney to assist you in the matter, it’s important to have a good understanding of what the attorney will require from you. In this article, we’ve outlined the five questions every attorney will ask you when drafting up your will.
What Do You Hope To Achieve With A Will?
Quite simply, a good estate planning attorney should ask you what it is that you want to achieve with your will. Some things they may want to know are how important tax issues are to you, meaning how vital it is to you whether you are to paying high taxes or not. An attorney will also want to know whether or not you have children with special needs, if you plan to pay for your children or grandchildren’s college tuition, etc. Such questions will help lead them in the right direction by better understanding what you need from a will.
What Is Your Family Situation?
One very important part of planning a will is considering your family members. The purpose of a will is to make sure that your estate is taken care of according to your wishes once you pass. Most people leave part of or their entire estate to their loved ones. It is essential for your attorney to know if you are married, have kids, have grandchildren, if your parents are alive, and any other relevant information about your familial relationships. This will help your attorney better understand who can be a possible heir or beneficiary, as well as understanding how you may want assets to be divided. At this point in the conversation, your attorney may also inquire about your health condition, which may impact how quickly you need your will drafted. Depending on your specific circumstances, you might need an estate plan rather quickly in comparison to others.
What Assets Do You Own?
After getting a better understanding of your family situation, your attorney can now begin to understand your financial position. The first key step is figuring out what assets you want to pass through the will, as not all of them should. Assets such as life insurance and jointly owned property should pass outside of the will. This is to avoid probate, which is a lengthy and costly process that occurs if such assets are passed through a will. After deciding what assets you want included in your will, your attorney also should figure out if you will owe any estate taxes, which depends on the size of your estate. If they realize that you will owe taxes, they should also help you determine the best way to avoid paying higher rates than necessary.
Where Do You Want Your Assets To Be Distributed?
Once you’ve decided what assets you have that are going to pass through a will, you need to decide who will inherit your estate. Your attorney should ask what you want to happen to your assets after you pass. In the case that you decide that you want a minor to be in charge of your estate, your attorney should go over minor trusts as an option. This is a type of trust that leaves assets to a minor, however they are kept with a trustee until the minor reaches a certain age, which is usually when they turn 18 years old.
Who Will Be Responsible For Your Estate?
Another important question that your attorney will ask you relates to who you’d like your fiduciaries to be. A fiduciary will take on a role that will be responsible for various parts of ones estate. This role can be an executor, which is someone who will have control of a will. It can also be a trustee, which is someone who is responsible for each trust. It can be a guardian or someone who will have power of attorney, which means they can make medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapable of doing so. These are all vital roles that need to be filled and should be chosen carefully. A good attorney should help you decide whether you want your assets to be given to a person, a bank, various trust companies, or even a charity. If it is decided that you want to pass your estate to a person, often times a family member, the age of that person should be considered, since the law applies differently to minors. The court will get involved in the process of distributing assets to a minor, which may take months to resolve. This is avoidable if there is a minor trust in place, as mentioned above. It is also recommended to speak with an intended executor before putting them in charge of your will to make sure that they are able to take on this responsibility.
There are many details that need to be discussed when planning an estate, and a good attorney will make sure to cover all bases. To get started on drafting your will and other important documents, contact a licensed estate attorney so they can make sure that your estate plan follows state laws and accurately reflects your wishes.