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What should I bring?

I assist individuals and couples with estate planning. In that context, an individual will call to schedule an initial meeting with me. During that call, the individual will often ask the following question: What should I bring? In other words, what information do I as an attorney expect the prospective client to bring for our first meeting together?

Having done estate planning for over 35 years, I hold fond memories of, and appreciation for, the individual or couple who answers that question well. I simply refer to them as a model client.

The model client will bring the following information to our first meeting:

  • Family information. The full names and dates of birth of children and grandchildren, if any, are helpful.
  • Trusted helpers. The model client knows who to appoint or designate as a trusted helper or fiduciary. Who should act as the personal representative under a will, an agent under a durable power of attorney (financial and health care), trustee under a trust, and a guardian and conservator for minor children? Who should be the successor person if the initially appointed person cannot serve?
  • Goals. What should the planning accomplish?
  • Assets. The model client usually knows his, her or their net worth financially and provides a written summary of their assets showing type, value and ownership.
  • Current estate planning documents. The model client brings current estate planning documents, if any.

The information shared by the model client makes for a productive first meeting. The information allows me as a professional to make a recommendation for the model client’s consideration. The above information shared by the model client answers well the question what should I bring?

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