Law Office of Christopher W. Caine.

What Generally Prompts Someone To Set Up An Estate Plan?

There are a variety of things that could prompt someone to set up an estate plan. They may have had a life-changing event like the birth of a grandchild or the birth of a child or they have gone through a divorce, they may be in the process of a divorce, or they may have recently married. They may have accumulated some wealth and they want to make sure it goes to the proper people, usually their children. Sometimes they’ll be around their friends and their friends are talking about their estate plan and how they just completed it and they are so happy that it is done. I’ve also had clients who may have an illness or a disease. I’ve had a client who had cancer and then he had a heart attack. He realized that it was time to do an estate plan for his girlfriend to make sure that she got all his assets. Changing life events generally get people thinking about doing an estate plan or updating their plan.

What Are Some Mistakes People Make That Could Be Avoided In The Estate Planning Process?

Sometimes people do not use the proper device or devices for their estate plan. They might use a trust when they don’t really need a trust or they might use a beneficiary deed for a house and use similar beneficiary designation devices for other assets, then they find out that according to their specific situation they actually need a trust. They might use a Will and find out that they need a trust because the Will creates a probate problem. Some of the other errors are that they wait too long to develop an estate plan and by the time they get to the point where they want to develop an estate plan, they may not have the capacity. Capacity is a problem for attorneys when one doesn’t have the mental capacity to develop an estate plan. The attorney wants to help, but may have to say they cannot help because a Will or Trust may be contested because there is a question about the person’s mental capacity to make the Will or Trust.

Why Is The Initial Consultation With An Estate Planning Attorney So Important?

The initial consultation with an estate planning attorney is so important because at that time the attorney gets a feel for what the client or clients want to do. We gather information about their specific situation. What do the assets look like? Do they have a tax issue? Is there a probate issue? Do they have an existing estate plan that might be a problem? If so, does it need to be revised or replaced? What are their goals? What do they want their legacy to look like? We get a snapshot of where they are with respect to a lot of things. The initial consultation is just an information gathering session. It’s also a session where we get face-to-face and we figure out whether we like each other, to see if we want to do business with each other, to see if the client likes the attorney and vice versa to determine if we can get along. It’s an all-encompassing session which covers a lot of ground. It might be a first impression session to see if the attorney and client work well together. A good attorney is going to see if they can help the client with the needs that they have.

What Questions Do You Generally Discuss When Meeting With A Client For The First Time?

When meeting with a client for the first time, I want a picture of their specific situation. What financial assets do they have? What real property assets? Do they have investment properties? I need a picture of the estate’s size and then I need to know who the beneficiaries are. I also need to know what their tax situation is. I need to know who the trustees for the trusts might be and who the personal representatives in a Will might be and who the agents for powers of attorney might be. When an estate plan is finished it’s going to be comprised of maybe a Will or Trust and powers of attorney or it may be comprised of beneficiary designation accounts. I’m getting a picture of what’s going on. I also need to determine if they have a second marriage. Do they have kids from prior marriages? Do they have assets that they are bringing to the marriage which they want to protect and get to their children, not the other spouse’s children in the event of their death? I need that information to present them with their options and help them to make a decision about what type of estate plan is best for them.

How Long Does It Typically Take To Set Up A Proper Estate Plan?

This depends upon different variables such as; when the parties can schedule a meeting with the attorney and how extensive the estate plan is. Some estate plans are more complicated than others. For example; a Trust-based estate plan with powers of attorney and a living will be more complicated and time-consuming than a simple Will based estate plan or a beneficiary designation based estate plan.

For more information on Setting Up An Estate Plan In Arizona, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (520) 360-4292 today.

Chris Caine, Esq.

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(520) 389-5634

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