A very good friend of mine just had their first child, and so the next inevitable step is to call their buddy the estate planning attorney (yours truly, My Journey) to discuss the drafting of a Will.
Upon arriving, and checking out the kid and some small talk it became very apparent they were very unprepared to have this discussion with me. We got to business quickly, since I was there the night before, and saw the kid at the hospital when it was 8 hours old…told you they were close friends. Also, according to the Wife, I have a problem with boundaries.
(Side note: Since I created a whole post about Charging friends for “side” professional work, I should mention – I am not charging them, but will be charging their parents who have a very complex estate.)
Since they were so unprepared, I figured other people would be too, which provides me a perfect opportunity to write about a couple items that you should know the answer to prior to meeting an attorney. Note that I use the word ‘attorney’ – I am very anti-using an estate tool kit; you are creating a legal document and it should be treated as such (I wouldn’t suggest you handle your own medical malpractice case, or real estate closing).
Things to Know Before Meeting an Attorney to Drafting Your Last Will and Testament
Your Attorney will be the one getting these “things” done, but you should know what it is you want.
Who do you and your spouse want as Guardian of your children? This usually only becomes applicable if both spouses die, being that if one spouse dies the other one will be guardian. This should be the same person in both Wills, otherwise, the last to die wins!
Who do you and your spouse want as Executors of your Estates? Again, this really only matters upon the second death since it is usually the surviving spouse on the first death who is the executor. An executor is the person who runs the estate. This person should be trustworthy since they will be in charge of collecting assets, paying debts, hiring Counsel, and distributing your stuff.
Who do you and your spouse want as Trustee of any Trusts created for the benefit of your Children? Same issues as the first two. This Trustee will be in charge of caring for your assets for the benefit of usually a child and distributing income/principal.
What Life Insurance Policies do You own & What Qualified Accounts do you Own? This is important because someone should confirm who are the primary and secondary beneficiaries. The Supreme Court has already ruled that these beneficiary status controls.
What is your Testamentary Intent?
You should have an idea of where you want your stuff to go, and how it should be distributed upon your death. Your attorney should talk to how to get this done, and whether there are tax consequences, but you should have a basic idea.
Specifically you should know that you want your glass coke bottles to go to your father. Note: I really have this clause in my Will; yup, your boy My Journey collects coke bottles – DO NOT JUDGE ME.
(Photo Props: Eqqman)