Meeting with an attorney can feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, that’s one of the benefits of an initial consultation — it’s a chance to get to know your prospective attorney, put you at ease, and assess the fit. You should leave the appointment feeling comfortable with your choice and confident that this particular attorney is perfectly suited to handle your estate planning.
Of course, the consultation is a two-way street.
As you’re getting to know each other, the attorney will ask a number of questions to better understand your unique situation. They won’t offer legal advice yet — that’s reserved for later, once you’ve formalized the attorney-client relationship — but they will recommend solutions tailored to your needs and explain how they would handle your estate plan.
It helps to know what to expect during your estate planning consultation, so we’ve put together a quick guide covering the following common questions:
- How long is the consultation?
- What topics will you discuss during the consultation?
- Is there a charge for the consultation?
- What should I bring to the consultation?
How long is my consultation?
An initial consultation with an estate planning attorney generally takes 30 to 60 minutes. Plan on spending the full hour with your attorney so that you have ample time to discuss all of the necessary topics.
What topics will we discuss?
During the course of your consultation appointment, the estate planning attorney will ask you a variety of questions to better understand your unique situation. There isn’t a strict roadmap to the meeting, but you can generally expect to discuss the following essential topics.
Existing Estate Plans
The estate planning attorney will want to know if you have an existing estate plan or you’re starting from scratch. Updating an existing plan is much different than an all-inclusive package, and your attorney will need to see copies of any existing estate plan documents.
Even if you don’t have an existing estate plan, you may have an informal plan. The attorney will ask who you have in place to handle your assets if you become incapacitated, who will handle your estate when you pass away, who is in charge of your financial affairs, and who is in charge of your healthcare affairs.
The estate planning attorney will ask about your financial standing, so be prepared to share details about your assets and liabilities. The attorney will also ask about any special tax considerations that need to be taken into account, notably estate and gift taxes.
A critical part of estate planning is ensuring that your loved ones are taken care of, so your attorney will ask about any important relationships. In addition to family members, that may include friends and business partners.
As you’re discussing important relationships, be sure to bring up any family members that require special needs trusts or other considerations. The attorney will ask if there are any minor children or grandchildren that need to be addressed in the estate plan, and if you have anyone in mind to serve as their guardian.
Clients who own a business will need to address a business succession plan in their estate plan. Be prepared to answer questions about your business’s current affairs and future plans, and bring along relevant documents to establish the business’s assets, liabilities, and insurance policies.
Is there a charge for my consultation?
Assuming you decide to hire the attorney at the conclusion of your consultation appointment, the consultation fee is included in the cost of estate planning services. In other words, there’s no need to write a check for the consultation.
What should I bring?
Consultation appointments are far more productive when you bring as much documentation as possible. In short, it’s best to over-prepare.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to bring copies of anything related to your assets and financial circumstances. This includes financial statements, insurance documents, real estate titles, business ownership agreements — anything that proves your assets and liabilities.
If you have an existing estate plan that requires updating, bring copies of your will, power of attorney, living will, and trust documents.
Call Our Arizona Estate Team (480) 467-4325 to discuss your case today.