Essential Items to Prepare Before Consulting an Estate Planning Attorney

Estate planning is a crucial step in managing your assets and ensuring your wishes are honored in the event of your incapacity or death. Working with an estate planning attorney can simplify this process, but being well-prepared can make your consultation more efficient and productive.

Here are the key items you should have ready before your meeting.

Compile a List of Assets and Liabilities


Begin by creating a comprehensive list of your assets.

This includes:

  • Real estate holdings
  • Bank accounts (savings, checking)
  • Investment accounts (stocks, bonds, mutual funds)
  • Retirement accounts (IRA, 401(k), pensions)
  • Life insurance policies
  • Personal property of significant value (jewelry, art, vehicles)


Equally, note down your liabilities, such as:

  • Mortgages
  • Personal loans
  • Credit card debts
  • Any other outstanding debts

Gather Legal and Financial Documents

Having the following documents at hand can help your attorney understand your current financial standing and legal obligations:

  • Deeds for any real estate owned
  • The most recent statements for bank, investment, and retirement accounts
  • Life insurance policies
  • Existing wills or trusts
  • Marriage certificate, if applicable
  • Divorce decrees, if applicable

Consider Your Health Care Wishes

Decisions about your health care, especially when you are unable to make decisions for yourself, are a critical aspect of estate planning.

Think about:

  • Who you would want to make healthcare decisions on your behalf
  • Your views on life support and other life-sustaining measures
  • Any specific instructions you have for your end-of-life care

Reflect on Your Beneficiaries

Deciding who will inherit your assets is a fundamental part of estate planning. Consider:

  • Who your beneficiaries will be (family, friends, charities)
  • How you want your assets distributed (equally, specific bequests)
  • If there are any special considerations (trusts for minors, conditions on inheritance)

Choose Potential Executors and Trustees

Your executor is the person who will manage the distribution of your estate according to your will. Similarly, if you're setting up any trusts, you'll need to decide on trustees.

Choose individuals who are:

  • Trustworthy and capable of handling financial matters
  • Likely to outlive you
  • Willing to take on these responsibilities

Think About Guardianship

If you have minor children or dependents, deciding on a guardian is essential. Consider someone who shares your values, is financially stable, and is genuinely willing to take on the responsibility of raising your children.

Prepare a List of Questions

Finally, have a list of any questions or concerns you may have for your attorney.

This might include:

  • How to minimize estate taxes
  • The best way to structure your estate to protect your assets
  • Clarifications on any aspects of estate law you're unsure about

Preparing for a consultation with an estate planning attorney may seem overwhelming, but taking these steps ensures you’re ready to make informed decisions about your estate. A little preparation goes a long way in creating a sound estate plan that reflects your wishes and protects the interests of your loved ones.

Contact a local law firm like Donald B Linsky & Associate Pa to learn more.