The first time you sit down with an estate planning attorney you may feel as though you are on the proverbial “hot seat” given some of the questions your attorney is likely to ask. To put your mind at ease, it is important to understand first that all of your answers are confidential, meaning that your attorney cannot even share them with a spouse without permission. Second, it may help to have some idea why your attorney is asking the questions.
- Do you have any serious or chronic health problems? Your attorney will prepare a comprehensive estate plan based on you living to an average age. If there is a known risk of you not living that long, your estate plan should be adjusted accordingly.
- Have you even given a child up for adoption? Even a child given up for adoption may be a potential heir to your estate and your attorney needs to know about the child.
- Do you have any children born out of wedlock? Again, the child is a possible heir. You can decide to specifically include or exclude any child; however, unless your attorney knows about the child you cannot do either of the two.
- Are you currently undergoing any fertility treatments? In the 21st century, fertility treatments frequently result in stored genetic material that is an estate asset. In order to prevent a future battle over the asset, your attorney needs to know that it exists.
- Do you own an interest in a business and if so how is the business doing financially? If the business is succeeding then you need a succession plan. If the business is not doing so well then you may need to protect other estate assets from creditors.