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Estate Planning:

Posted by attorney Mary Quin

The Initial Meeting With Your Attorney Proper Estate Planning Living Trusts

Proper estate planning begins with a call to your attorney to schedule a meeting. The

attorney may or may not charge for the initial meeting. You should ask if the meeting will be

with the attorney or with a paralegal. If the initial meeting is only with a paralegal, you may be

dealing with a "trust mill" office.

If the initial meeting is with both the attorney and a paralegal, or with just the attorney, you will

probably be better served. Also, ask if the attorney will want you to provide information about your finances and your family in advance, so that the attorney can prepare for the initial meeting. In our office we send a

questionnaire to new estate planning clients, which the client must return before our initial meeting, that way some advance preparation for the meeting can be done by the attorney. You should ask how long the meeting will take. If you are told that it will be for no more than a half hour, you might want to consider another attorney. Even with advance preparation, it is my experience that good initial planning meetings take between 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

What is proper estate planning? It involves a plan that is carefully designed to meet your goals. It requires a cooperative effort between you,your attorney, and other appropriate members of your estate planning

"team ," such as a financialplanner, a life insurance agent, and a CPA The plan should not be thought of

as a series of transactions whereby the financial adviser provides investments, the insurance agent

provides insurance ,and the attorney provides a trust or a will.In my view, that is the wrong approach.

A trust provides for distribution of the estate of the trustor after his or her death.These provisions can be the same as those found in a will and might include trusts for younger beneficiaries,gifts to charities, etc. Depending on the size of the estate, the trust might also include provisions that will reduce or eliminate federal estate taxes. Instead of taking the transaction ,i.e,product oriented approach, you should view estate planning as an ongoing process that evolves as your needs,goals, and family change,as the laws change,and as new estate planning too ls and techniques are developed. It is a process of continually evolving entrance, growth, maintenance, and exit strategies. Proper planning requires professional thoroughness that respects the overall well-being of you and your family. A living trust avoids probating assets that have been transferred to the trust. Probate is a costly, time consuming processthat many estates do not need.

After the initial meeting, documents will be prepared for your review. Those should consist of, at least, a revocabe "living" trust, a "pour-over" will, a certificate of trust, a durable power of attorney for asset

management in the event of disability, a health care power of attorney, and a healthcare directive. Another meeting should then be held. At that meeting the attorney should thoroughly explain the documents to

you. You should then be given an opportunity to thoroughly review the documents before you sign them.

Once your plan has been done, it must be maintained. I recommend estate plan review conferences no less than every two years .If there are changes in your family, your desires,or yourfinancial situation,

you should always contact you rattorney to see if your plan should be changed. A trust also can avoid conservatorships. Conservatorships are needed when an individual can no longer manage his or her financial affairs. A conservator is appointed by the court and given the power to manage the conservatee's financial affairs, and also make decisions concerning the consevatee's living arrangements. A properly prepared trust can provide a successor trustee of your choosing who will manage the trust for the benefit of the trustor, avoiding the need for a co nservatorship.







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