Three tips to prepare for meeting an estate planning attorney

New Jersey residents can take these steps to ease the estate planning process.

Estate plans are beneficial for a number of reasons. These plans can be tailored not just for the distribution of assets, but can also provide advantages during the creator’s lifetime. This can include potential tax savings as well as ensuring assets are managed wisely in the event of the creator’s incapacitation.

Considering an estate plan? Take these three steps to ease the process.

Those who decide to move forward with an estate plan can take these three steps to help ensure the first meeting with an estate planning attorney goes smoothly:

  • Organize. One of the most important steps to preparing for an estate planning meeting is to take an accounting of all assets and liabilities. Put together a list of all assets including bank accounts, retirement accounts, investment accounts, life insurance policies and any business interests. Also include pieces of real and personal property, like a family or vacation home, automobiles and any other pieces of property with value like artwork or jewelry. Include an estimation of the value of these assets. Also list and estimate any debts, like mortgages. The attorney will provide instructions as to what should be assembled prior to the meeting.
  • Think about who should make medical and financial decisions. It is wise to take into consideration who you would trust to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf in the event of incapacitation. Incapacitation can happen to anyone at anytime. It could result from a car accident or a debilitating illness. Regardless of the cause, it is wise to prepare the legal documents that ensure your medical wishes and financial needs are taken care of in these situations. In New York and New Jersey, a health care directive and a durable power of attorney can achieve these goals. A health care directive should incorporate a living will, which may explain your preferences for medical care in these situations.
  • Consider trusts. A trust is a legal document that provides the creator with a greater level of control over the distribution of assets compared to an outright gift. The trust can be set up to achieve a number of goals, including sheltering funds from creditors and encouraging the beneficiary to attend college.

Trusts are beneficial not just for passing assets, but can also offer tax benefits during the creator’s lifetime.

Importance of these meetings

These meetings provide an opportunity to organize your affairs, while developing strategies that can ensure you and your estate are protected. Contact an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss your options.