Many new clients first come into my office saying they “want a trust.” What those clients don’t know is that a trust is just one of the four essential estate planning documents that most estate planning attorneys recommend to ensure all of the clients’ “bases are covered.” Put simply, these four essential documents are:
- Revocable Living Trust: Moves your property into the trust name to avoid probate court, a time-consuming and lengthy process, and allows you to choose your beneficiaries.
- Pour-Over Will: Works with the above trust to ensure your wishes are followed.
- Durable Power of Attorney: Specifies who you would want to make financial and property decisions for you should you become incapacitated and what powers you give to that person.
- Advanced Health Care Directive: Specifies who you would want to make health decisions for you should you become incapacitated and what powers that person has (Do you want to stay on life support? Do you want to donate organs?).
In gathering information for your first meeting, I ask my new clients to bring information on the following two aspects:
- People: Who are your beneficiaries? Who do you want to be in charge once you pass or if you are incapacitated?
- Things: Your assets. Please bring a list of all accounts—account type, account number, & institution information. If possible, clients should also bring grant deeds or quitclaim deeds for all real property owned.
- Although estate planning is by no means simple, with this basic understanding of the estate planning documents and what information is needed to begin the process, you are now far ahead of the average new estate planning client.
Tony does not charge for initial consultations. For more information, please contact Tony at 5703 Temple City Boulevard, 626-285-7033, or firstname.lastname@example.org.