Taking the first step in meeting with an estate planning attorney is a noble and critical endeavor. This is setting up an individual’s plans for the future, so after their passing, their assets and property are handled according to their wishes. However, the productivity of a first estate planning meeting depends on the documents the person brings to the meeting; the more information provided to the attorney, the faster the estate planning process can begin. Below are categories of documents that clients meeting with a Houston estate planning attorney should bring to their initial consultation—having these documents ready will not only help to begin the estate planning process, but also allow the individual to assess the attorney and their merits.
Financial Personal Papers and Banking Accounts
It is critical to bring personal financial papers to the first meeting with an estate planning attorney, so they can assess the person’s assets and discuss how they should be distributed. Financial personal papers include an inventory of valuables, car titles, tax returns, rental agreements, and mortgage documents. Of course, individuals should bring other financial documents they believe are important for their estate planning attorney to know about. Additionally, individuals should be able to speak in detail about their bank and credit union accounts and statements. Even if a person does not bring the credit statements to the appointment, they should have these items organized and stored in a safe place.
At McCulloch & Miller, PLLC, we make it easy for you to organize this first step in the process. We have our personal client information form online and ready to fill out prior. We also have a family document check list that you can start to use when organizing those important papers laying around the house. We don’t expect (and don’t want) you to bring every financial paper into the office. All we need is a summary list of organized assets and your concerns or goals to start.
Non-Financial Personal Papers
To give the estate planning attorney a better understanding of the client’s family dynamic, individuals should bring documents like divorce/separation papers, adoption certificates, marriage certificates, and prior estate planning legal documents. While it may seem premature to bring such documents to an initial consultation, the more information an estate planning attorney has during the initial consultation, the better and more informative the meeting can be. Estate planning attorneys can then advise potential clients on how Texas law would distribute their assets to their family currently and if they were to pass away without an estate plan. Additionally, estate planning attorneys will use all of this information and documentation to inform clients of what should be included in their estate plan—like a will, power of attorney, and irrevocable trust for children or grandchildren.
As much as the initial consultation is about the estate planning attorney discussing a person’s options and the estate plan best for them, the individual also gets to decide if they believe the estate planning attorney is a good match for them. Because of this—and because drafting an estate plan is such a critical endeavor—individuals should be prepared to assess the attorney’s credibility, knowledge, and personality during the initial meeting. Houstonians need someone they can rely on, trust, and grow with as your estate plan will likely need updating over the years.
Contact a Houston Estate Planning Attorney
If you or a loved one is interested in drafting an estate plan, contact the Houston estate planning attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC. Beginning the estate planning process can often be stressful, so we are here to help you navigate this process and ensure your loved ones will be taken care of after your passing. To schedule a consultation and to speak with one of our knowledgeable attorneys, call us today at 713-333-8900.