The decisions made when creating an estate plan are highly personal decisions. Understandably, it may be uncomfortable to discuss these decisions with a stranger which is why it is important to develop a lifelong relationship with your estate planning attorney. You will, however, need to share things with your estate planning attorney that you may prefer not to share. Failing to be open and honest with your attorney, however, could jeopardize the success of your overall estate plan. With that in mind, consider the following five things you need to tell your Los Angeles estate planning attorney to ensure that the plan you create actually does protect you, your assets, and your loved ones.
- Your true and complete asset picture. Like most people, you are probable hesitant to discuss your finances and the extent of your estate assets with other people. As a general rule there is no reason why you would need to discuss your assets, much less the value of those assets, with other people; however, your estate planning attorney needs to know all that — and then some. In order to protect your assets, both now and in the future, your attorney needs to know exactly what assets you have and what they are worth. We all get in the habit of doing things such as trying to undervalue assets for tax purposes or hide assets from ex-spouses that we sometimes have to adjust our mindset when it comes to estate planning. Remember, your attorney is on your side.
- A true and complete list of potential heirs. For many people this is simple – and you may wonder why it is even included. For others though, it can be critical to protecting their estate. Your estate planning attorney needs to know about all of your children and grandchildren because any child or grandchild could inherit from your estate. Even if you have not spoken to a child in many years, you still need to include that child in your estate plan – if for no other reason than to specifically disinherit that child. Likewise, if you adopted a child, or gave a child up for adoption, your attorney needs to know so the child can be addressed in your plan if necessary.
- A true and accurate health report for you. Knowing where your health stands is crucial to creating a successful estate plan because specific steps need to be taken immediately if your health is questionable. If you are concerned about your health, or have been diagnosed with any health issues, your estate planning attorney needs to know.
- Names of anyone who might be likely to contest your Will. That child mentioned earlier that you have been estranged from for years? Your attorney needs to know about that relationship in the event he/she decides to contest your Will. Any other heir or beneficiary that you feel might be unhappy with the terms of your Will should be mentioned as well.
- Your religious beliefs regarding end of life care, funeral and burial services, and anything else you feel may be pertinent. Faith can play an important role in an estate plan. Advanced directives and funeral planning are two areas where your faith and religious beliefs become particularly important. If those beliefs cause you to have specific ideas about the care you receive (or would prefer not to receive) in the event you are suffering from a terminal illness or condition, you have the opportunity to ensure that your beliefs and wishes are honored through careful estate planning.
The Importance of Your Relationship with Your Los Angeles Estate Planning Attorney
As you can see, some of the topics and information you may need to share with your Los Angeles estate planning attorney may feel highly personal and even a bit invasive; however, the more open and honest you are with your estate planning attorney the better your attorney can protect you and your estate.
For more information, please join us for one of our upcoming free seminars. If you have additional questions or concerns about estate planning, contact the experienced Los Angeles estate planning attorneys at Collins Law Firm by calling (310) 677-9787 to schedule an appointment.