Author: Brenton McWilliams
What information do I need to begin preparing my Estate Plan?
Nothing. Well, not nothing, but certainly less information than most people think they need to begin the process of preparing their will or trust.
For most people, estate planning is easy to procrastinate. A common weapon I see in the estate planning procrastination arsenal is the over-exaggeration of the information needed to prepare an estate plan. With the understanding that it’s easy to procrastinate, one of our goals is to make it easy to get your planning done. We start out collecting a minimum level of information and only request more information if it’s necessary (and it usually isn’t). Here are the questions from the estate planning information sheet we send out before our first appointment:
Are you (and your spouse, if applicable) U.S. Citizens?
To determine if we need to plan for federal estate taxes, do you have assets exceeding $9 Million if unmarried or $18 Million if married?
If you are married, do either you or your spouse have children from a prior marriage?
Do you (or your spouse, if applicable) have an IRA or 401(k) that you expect will make up a large part of your estate?
Do you (or your spouse, if applicable) own real estate in a state other than Alabama?
Do you have a Financial Advisor/Planner?
Other than a short interest assessment at the beginning, that’s it. Other than answers to the questions above we’ll need the names of beneficiaries (usually family members). We DO NOT need their social security numbers, dates of birth or even their addresses. Most of the time, we DO NOT need bank account numbers, deeds, social security cards, military IDs, tax returns, bank statements, appraisals or tax assessments records (in the rare chance we do, we will let you know).
If you have an estate planning meeting with us to prepare a will or trust, all you to need to do is fill out the estate planning information sheet with the questions above and give some consideration to who you would like to inherit your assets. It’s optional, but it is helpful for me (to make sure I spell everyone’s name correctly) if you will write out a list of the names of anyone who will be included in your will or trust.
We make it easy to get your estate planning done. Don’t let information gathering stand in the way of getting it started and done.
We have offices in Baldwin County in Orange Beach, Foley and Daphne. If you need help with estate planning, including preparing a last will and testament or trust, please call us at (251) 215-9275 or write us on the contact page to discuss how we can help.