Note to New Clients
Sometimes we find clients procrastinate in getting their planning done because they cannot locate, or do not have time to locate, financial or legal documents, stock certificates or insurance policies. These documents will not be needed until later in the planning process, so it is better to spend the time before your appointment thinking about the following three estate planning fundamentals:
Who are the most important people in your life? These important people could include loved ones: your spouse, children and grandchildren, your parents, siblings or other relatives. Important people might also include charities, special causes, colleges or universities and churches. For some, pets count as important “people” too. Deciding on the people who have been most important to you during your life is where the planning process truly begins.
In this case, we define property as all of your assets in general. Start by making a list of the assets you own or control. You do not need to identify insurance policy numbers and exact dollar values. Instead think of your assets in terms of their nature (cash, stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.), their value in thousands of dollars, and your ownership interest. Do you own assets in your name only, jointly, or through a trust agreement or some other arrangement? Don’t forget to include assets like life insurance (the death benefit, not the cash value), business interests and any inheritance you expect to receive.
Consider the plans you would like to make by asking yourself questions such as:
- What would happen to your family if you passed away tomorrow?
- What would happen to your family if you became disabled?
- Who do you need (or want) to help or educate, and what will it cost?
- How and when do you want to retire? What will you do and how much will it cost?
- Are your parents living, and if so, will you be expected to contribute to their support at some point? Have you made any provision for the possibility that you may need nursing home or other long-term care?
- How important is it to you to help your children and grandchildren financially? How do you plan to do it?
- Is there an institution that you care deeply about and would like to provide with a meaningful legacy, particularly if it can be done in a tax efficient manner?
- If part of your estate will be taxed after you pass away, how do you want the tax to be paid? If you want the children to pay the tax, would they be forced to sell something you don’t want them to sell?
Setting Up an Appointment
If you are interested in our estate planning services we invite you to call for an appointment. We recommend that our new estate planning clients complete an estate planning information form in advance of the consultation. These forms will be discussed with you when making an appointment. Please mention your preferred location for meeting with our staff (Rockville or Columbia).
In the best interest of all of our clients, we have instituted a cancellation policy. Of course, we understand that some scheduling conflicts and emergencies cannot be avoided, and we will always do our best to accommodate rescheduling, however, with just a handful of attorneys serving clients at two office locations, no-show and/or last minute cancellations greatly interfere with our ability to service our clients. We kindly ask that if you cannot make it to your appointment, that you please contact at least 24 hours in advance to cancel. Missed appointments or appointments cancelled within 24 hours of the appointment will be charged a fee of $100. We, of course, want to see you! That’s why we use both e-mail and phone to confirm your appointment in advance. Please make sure to keep your contact information current, so that we always know how to reach you for appointment confirmations. Thank you for your understanding.