Checklist: An Estate Planning Starter Guide (2023)

While it’s important to live in the present, it’s also important to plan for the future. While it can be difficult to think about your own mortality, it’s often critical to ensure that your loved ones are cared for after you pass away. After all, it’s better to have an estate plan before you need it than to not have one when you need it. However, establishing a comprehensive estate plan can prove complicated. That’s why it’s in your best interest to meet with an estate planning attorney. Here’s an estate planning checklist for what to bring to your first meeting.

1. Personal Information

You’ll want to bring personal and family details, such as the full names, birth dates, and addresses of your family members or loved ones who you would like to establish as beneficiaries of your assets.

2. View of Your Finances

It’s important that the attorney has a clear picture of your finances. This may include a list of your bank accounts, real estate properties, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, investments, and debts.

3. Medical Decisions

Your estate plan often includes not only what you wish to happen after you pass away, but also what you would like to occur should you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions. You should consider what you would like concerning future medical conditions, what treatments you are okay with, and who you wish to make other medical decisions for you if you are unable. This may include documents such as a power of attorney or living will.

4. Estate Planning Goals

One of the questions you will undoubtedly be asked is what your goals are. It’s important to think about your estate planning goals ahead of time. Do you wish to protect assets? Maybe you want to minimize your taxes. Whatever your goals are it’s important to voice them to the attorney.

5. Guardianship

Another really important part of an estate plan is deciding who you wish to care for your minor children should you pass away. Your estate plan can include who you wish to appoint as their guardian. You’ll want to choose someone you trust; it’s good to ask them ahead of time.

6. Other Conditions

There are other circumstances that you should consider for an estate plan. For instance, if you have a blended family, a loved one with special needs, or complex finances, it’s important to discuss these issues as well.

7. Estate Planning Documents

If you already have any estate planning documents, such as a will, living will, trust, or power of attorney, you will want to bring them with you to your appointment – whether they are current or not. This will enable the attorney to determine if anything needs to be updated in order to carry out your wishes.

8. Questions and Concerns

The worst thing is to be in front of an attorney and realize after the fact that you forgot to ask several important questions. That’s why it’s in your best interest to create a list of questions or concerns that you have. The attorney can then discuss these concerns with you and help you to work through various issues.

9. Financial and Healthcare Appointees

Before you go to the attorney’s office, you should put thought into who you wish to appoint as your financial and medical powers of attorney. The individuals whom you choose will be able to make decisions for you should you become incapacitated.

10. Review of Beneficiary Designations

It’s important to review who you have assigned as beneficiaries on your life insurance policies and retirement accounts. Let the attorney know so that you can make sure that your estate plan accounts for these individuals.

A comprehensive estate plan can minimize the risk of arguments amongst your loved ones and can ensure that your wishes are properly carried out after you pass away. However, it’s very important to make sure that your estate planning documents are properly drafted in order to avoid any potential conflict and provide you with peace of mind.

PALUMBO LAW Helps Those in Rhode Island with Their Estate Plans

At PALUMBO LAW, our knowledgeable Rhode Island Estate Planning attorneys understand Rhode Island estate planning laws and will work strategically to help our clients uphold and protect their rights. If you are in need of a comprehensive estate plan or any associated documents, we can help. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!