Although most people acknowledge the need for a comprehensive estate plan, over half of all Americans do not have one. One of the reasons given for this is the simple fact that estate planning is somewhat intimidating for the average person given the fact that they have no reason to know much about it. The good news is that with an experienced estate planning attorney by your side, you will have someone to explain things to you and guide you through the process. There are, however, several things you can do to help your estate planning attorney as well. Toward that end, the Los Angeles estate planning lawyers at Collins Law Firm explain how to do your part when estate planning.
- Be honest and forthcoming. Many of the issues that must be discussed in an estate plan are extremely sensitive and extremely personal. Your estate planning attorney understands and respects this; however, your attorney cannot fully protect you and your interests if you fail to disclose all the necessary facts and information. Keep in mind that anything you tell your attorney will remain confidential because your attorney is ethically bound to keep it confidential.
- Keep records organized and up to date. Much of estate planning involves detailed financial records and other important records. Keeping those records organized and current will greatly help your attorney.
- Report changes. When you decide to change something in your estate plan, do not put off discussing the change with your attorney because life can be unpredictable.
- Schedule routine reviews. Your estate plan is not something that you create and then forget about from that point forward. On the contrary, an estate plan should be reviewed and revised on a regular basis. Prior to reaching retirement age, a good rule of thumb is to schedule a routine review every three to five years.
- Recognize the need for an immediate review and revision. Although a routine review is important, it can be even more important to recognize when an immediate review and revision may be necessary as a result of a life event. If you decide to get divorced, for example, you should not wait until your next routine review to make changes to your estate plan. Contact your estate planning attorney right away to schedule an appointment to update your plan.
- Heed advice. Few things are more frustrating for an attorney than to give a client excellent advice and have the client completely ignore it. If you have an issue with your attorney’s advice, speak up and discuss it, but do not completely ignore it.
- Choose fiduciaries wisely. There is an exceptionally good chance that your estate planning attorney will be working with one, or more, of your fiduciaries at some point. Your Executor, for example, may retain your attorney to help probate your estate. Choose those fiduciaries wisely, preferably with the assistance of your estate planning attorney.
- Discuss your plan with loved ones. This is, of course, a very personal decision; however, if anything in your plan is likely to be controversial, or to cause conflict, it will make everyone’s life much easier if you discuss it with them now, while you are here to do so.
- No surprises. This goes along with number one. Keep in mind that your estate planning attorney cannot protect you unless he/she knows everything. Keeping assets hidden, for example, may seem like a good idea; however, it could come back to bite you down the road if it turns out that your attorney could have protected that asset legally if only you had not kept it a secret.
- Nurture the relationship. Estate planning is a highly personal endeavor, and a lifelong one as well. The better your relationship is with your estate planning attorney, the better your wishes and needs are likely to be reflected accurately in your estate plan. Sticking with one estate planning attorney throughout your lifetime only makes sense.
Contact Collins Law Group
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions about estate planning, consult with a Los Angeles estate planning lawyer. Contact the Collins Law Firm by calling (310) 677-9787 to register for one of our FREE estate planning workshops.