Even if you don’t have a large estate, estate planning needs to be something you do. Most people procrastinate on this, putting it off as long as possible. Don’t be one of those people. It’s nothing to be afraid of, and with sufficient preparation, you can make it fairly easy. Simplifying an estate planning session starts before you even meet with the attorney.
Determine What You Own
The most time consuming portion of your estate planning session with the attorney will be determining what it is that you own. Most people can only guess. They don’t know for sure. Plus, going through the house and writing down everything that you own sounds like a huge job. The attorney has no way of knowing, and so he will have to walk you through a series of questions as he tries to understand what it is that you own and what needs to be done to protect it.
However, if you go into the session with your estate planner with all of your possessions already listed and in a form that the attorney can look over, you will save yourself hours. This is even more important if you have a business. You will have to include all of the information from your business in your estate planning to ensure that everything is in order. Fortunately, if you do have a business, then you already have a leg up. You can take the principles that you use to maintain and update your business inventory and apply them to your estate planning.
The Asset Panda app makes putting together personal and business inventory of all your assets very simple. All you have to do is download the app. The software for business inventory and personal inventory will allow you to catalog everything in your house within hours. When you’re going through the house, make sure that you make note in the app what you want to do with the various items. It’s easier to remember what you want to do with the grandfather clock and the willow teapot when you’re looking at it. So go ahead and write that down. Do the same with your business.
Make sure that you bring your iPhone to the meeting with your attorney or bring a report. You can do both with Asset Panda, but it will be easiest for the attorney if you bring the iPhone. This way, he can go through your inventory and help you structure the most appropriate strategies for your estate.
Get Contact Information for People Affected in Your Estate
You should also take the time to get the necessary contact information for the people whom you want to include in your estate. Generally, this means that you will need their
- Full legal names
- Other names that they use
- Maiden names, if appropriate
- Birth dates
- Phone numbers
The attorney will need this information to prepare the estate planning document and to make sure that the necessary individuals are contacted.
Balance Your Finances
A simple mistake that a lot of people make when they go into an estate planning session is that they do not have a good grasp on the things they own in the simplest monetary sense: an accurate balance of their finances. If you are debt free, this is quite simple. All you have to do is reconcile your checkbook and bring it in to the session. If you have debts, it becomes a little complicated. You will need to bring all of the information about the debts that you can. This includes
- Creditor name
- Anticipated date of repayment
- Repayment balance
- Rate of interest
- Termination policies
- Initial contracts
Put all of this information together in a folder and bring it in to the session with your checkbook fully balanced.