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?
Let the JacksonWhite Estate Planning team help you navigate through the types of safeties that you can build into your estate plans. Whatever the size of the estate is, we can find a plan that protects you and your family. 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.
There is a wide variety of ways to organize and decide what to include into a will, with our flat fees starting at $900. Having a valid will in place is a key necessity when planning your estate. At their most basic, every estate plan should have a will.
Being without a will could leave you and your loved ones vulnerable and to a process called an “Intestate Succession” which is a statutory process that may leave your estate to those you do not intend to inherit. This leaves too much up to state law on how to distribute your belongings and less on the importance of the relationship that you have with your loved ones.
What you have worked for your entire life should go to the people in your life that you choose. No matter what the size of the estate that you are leaving to your loved ones, it is important that your wishes are being listened to. The JacksonWhite Estate Planning team understands how personal it is to decide how to organize a will and are sure to be attentive to the needs of the client. When you work with JacksonWhite, you work with an attorney that cares as much as you do.
Families wanting to secure their assets in depth should consider a variety of options that can be used to help set up a trust portfolio. Trust packages can be as specific and thorough as you need. Customized trust packages start at $2,000.
Trusts help set a plan for your future in multiple scenarios. They can help your family avoid troublesome and costly probate by setting up a variety of safeguards. Revocable Living Trusts can be amended and modified while you are living and provide for assets to be transferred to your beneficiaries outside of probate or to remain in trust for the benefit of children or grandchildren.
Setting up proper trusts like these can also help you avoid unnecessary estate taxes, if your estate is of a sufficient size. The JacksonWhite Estate Planning team is experienced in navigating Arizona estate laws that can prove to be beneficial for your trust planning.
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.
Call Our Arizona Estate Team (480) 467-4325 to discuss your case today.