About the Consultation Process
I often begin by sending a questionnaire to my clients. By going through and responding to the questionnaire, they begin to think about some of the decisions that they must make during our initial meeting.
On my end, I am looking for potential points of conflict, as well as issues that can be resolved regarding titling prior to someone’s death. I am looking for places where I may have to creatively plan.
Most importantly, I am looking to see whether their assets raise to either a state tax filing threshold or the federal estate filing threshold, or whether the estate will be exposed to inheritance tax. This will dictate the planning options for a client or possibly allow for minimizing exposure to tax liability and reducing administrative expenses.
Important Questions We May Ask
For estate planning, I will typically ask what jurisdiction someone resides in so that I have an idea what laws we are working with. I also ask whether the client is married and whether he or she has children and if those children are minors or adults. It is important know if the client would like to provide for any children that have disabilities. I will also typically ask whether the client owns real estate, and if so, in what jurisdiction or jurisdictions. I will also ask several questions about the nature of clients’ assets, their titling, and how the assets are currently set o pass at their death.
Important Concepts To Understand
There are often some concepts that I like to explain to clients at the beginning of the process, but it really depends on whether I am speaking from the estate planning side or the administration side.
From the estate planning side, I can create an estate plan to prepare for the potential incapacity and the disposition of their assets at their death. At this point, I would explain the process and I explain my role in the process.
On the administration side, I often explain the process of estate administration based on an individual client’s needs or situation. For example, I can assist clients in being appointed as the Personal Representative of an estate, valuing assets, marshalling assets, preparing state and federal estate tax returns, understanding their duties as a trustee and a creating a plan for distribution.
The Importance of Consulting With An Attorney
Both the planning and the administration side of estates and trusts are very dependent on state law and very much differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. It can be incredibly difficult to understand the interplay between these complex laws on your own, so it is important to meet with an estate and trust advisor to assist. An attorney understands the nuances of drafting the document on the planning side, but can also advise you of your responsibilities on the administrative side.