Estate planning is planning to ensure that your final property and health care wishes are honored and that loved ones are provided for in your absence. The estate planning process should begin with you explaining to your attorney what you want to happen to your assets during your lifetime and at your death, then exploring the different options in which to accomplish your goals. During your initial consultation with an attorney, you may be asked to complete a questionnaire in which you list in detail your assets and describe your family structure. You should be prepared before you consult with your attorney because your estate plan is not a one size fits all type of product. You are in control of the way your assets are distributed and the family members or loved ones who will receive your property. Be sure to discuss your goals with your attorney. If your attorney does not know what is important to you, he or she will not be able to establish an estate plan that accomplishes your goals. Two areas are key when developing your estate plan: 1) preparation and 2) communication.
Your estate is made up of all of the assets that you own at your death. Your estate consists of real and personal property. Real property includes land, improvements to land and oil, gas and mineral interests. Personal property includes all property that is not real property. Some examples of personal property are: cash and bank accounts, clothing and personal effects, household furnishings, vehicles, stocks and bonds, life insurance policies, and retirement benefits.
The development of a well drafted, well thought out estate plan takes preparation by you and good communication with your estate planning attorney. It cannot be stressed enough the importance of defining your goals and clearly stating those goals to your attorney.
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