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10 Questions to Ask at Your First Estate Planning Meeting
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Setting up a meeting with an Ohio estate planning attorney is an important first step in establishing a strategy that will protect your wealth and your loved ones in the years to come.
As you prepare for this meeting, there are some topics you should be ready to discuss so that you can get the most out of the process.
The following are 10 questions to ask your estate attorney:
How long will the estate planning process take?
The answer to this question depends on many different factors, and your estate attorney may only be able to provide you with a general schedule. However, he or she should have a basic idea of the time commitment you will need to make.
What is your experience in Ohio estate law?
It’s best to work with an estate lawyer who has at least three to five years of experience, if not more. By asking this question, you should be able to gain an understanding of the background the attorney has in dealing with estate plans in Ohio that are similar to yours.
Is estate planning a primary focus of yours?
It’s OK if your attorney also practices in other areas of the law, but he or she should be well versed and spend a significant portion of his or her time on estate planning. You will want to work with a professional who stays up to date on changes to the law that could impact your planning process.
Will I be able to review all estate planning documents before they’re finalized?
You’ll want to be sure you can review everything in your estate plan, including your will and any trusts, power of attorney arrangements and advance healthcare directives you establish. Ask your estate law attorney for context if you have questions about what’s contained within these documents.
Can I go to you to update my estate plan on an ongoing basis?
Many estate planning lawyers offer annual or bi-annual reviews of all documents for a small fee. This can help you be proactive and make any necessary changes as your life circumstances change.
Will I be able to contact you in the future if I have questions?
Ideally, your estate planning attorney would be available on an ongoing basis to answer questions that might not arise until months after you’ve established your plan. Make sure your lawyer will take your call if you need further guidance later on.
Would it be possible for my estate to avoid probate?
The best way to avoid probate is through a living trust. This may or may not be a good option for you, but your estate attorney should at least bring it up as a possibility. A will is the most basic estate planning tool, but it does not allow you to avoid the probate process.
Should I have a durable power of attorney?
This is an important part of just about any estate plan. The document gives you the opportunity to name another party to make financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so because of an incapacitation or travel outside the country. A good estate planning lawyer will recommend you set this up.
Are my retirement account and life insurance beneficiaries in line with my wishes?
These accounts and policies are not dictated by your will or trust, and you’ll need to change the beneficiaries on them if they do not reflect what you have established in your estate plan. Your attorney should be able to advise you on any changes you’ll need to make.
Should I set up a revocable living trust?
Again, the answer to this question depends on your needs, situation and goals. However, your estate lawyer should explain in detail what a revocable living trust does and if he or she thinks it could be right for you.
Preparing for your meeting ahead of time will ensure you cover all your bases and don’t forget to address any important issues related to your estate. To get started, reach out to an experienced Ohio estate law attorney at Seif & McNamee today. We have offices in Waverly and Chillicothe.