Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chicago Estate Planing | Meeting Your Attorney For The First Time

So after much thought and deliberation, you have decided you need an estate plan. You already know, from my previous post, not to ask "What does a Will Cost?"  The question is, what should you ask and what should you bring into your first meeting? If you have a good attorney, he or she should have already sent you some information. The information may consist of a letter, a questioner, and/ or a financial assessment. I personally send all three to a client before I meet the client for the first time. The letter that I send to a client helps the client know what to expect of the estate planning process. The questioner helps the client get into the frame of mind that is necessary to know who are potential people for testamentary gifts. It also helps the client know what property they have and know about, and what property they have and might have forgotten. It also helps a client understand that the title of property (i.e. the way your deed is titled) is important for estate planning purposes.

 So now you have the proper documentation for your first meeting with your attorney. What else should you have. I have found that the most satisfied clients bring with a small notebook and a pen and ask questions that they have prepared before the meeting and take down my answers. After the meeting with me, they look over their notes and the information I have told them can sink in. By having questions in advance, you can wait until I explain the process to you, and when my explanation is done you can ask any questions that I may have not addressed. Without those preset questions, you may be overwhelmed with other parts of the Estate Planning process and forget to ask some of the questions you wanted to know. Additionally, I usually cover some part of the Estate Planning process that my client never heard of before. By coming prepared with questions and have a notebook to jot down new concepts, you will feel better about your initial consultation and have a more pleasant estate planning process. I would love to hear from you about your estate planning needs in the comments below. If you need an estate plan, contact my office, The Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole, or learn more about Estate Planning on my offices estate planning page. Good luck with your estate plan.

 Jonathan W. Cole

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Chicago Estate Plan | What Does a Will Cost?

   What does a will cost? This question is asked over and over again to attorneys. I sometimes think people don't understand that an Estate Plan is not a commodity. When you are looking for gas for your car, gasoline is a commodity. One gallon of gasoline, for the most part, is no different than another gallon of gasoline. An estate plan is as unique as you are. Since an Estate Plan is all about you and your wishes, each Plan must be tailored to the individual. The other thing that I find interesting is that people ask what the price of a Will is, not even knowing if a Will is what they need.

   Let me compare this request to a scenario that would never happen. Pretend you are trying to get fit so that you can run a marathon. You have done no exercise for five years and have put on a few pounds. You then go to the hospital and tell the doctor, I need to lose weight so that I can compete in a marathon. You then ask him how much for liposuction so that your thin self can run faster. Now I know this situation  sounds ridiculous. No one would begin to tell a doctor the treatment needed for a problem they have. You would tell the doctor the symptoms you are having and your medical history. When individuals deal with lawyers though, they ask how much for treatment. They do not even know if the treatment will fix what ails them.
   As a general rule, a Will alone will not solve the clients Estate Planning needs. I will plug my website, which is a great resource in regards to what Estate Planning Tools are available to help distribute your assets and care for your children. I request you not ask a lawyer how much a Will costs and instead ask what tools need to utilized to plan for the future. If a lawyer answers your question, how much is a Will, it is probably time to move on to another lawyer. The lawyer who will give you a blanket price will not take you into account when planning your future. Without knowing about you, your family, your assets and your plans for distribution, a lawyer has no idea what you need and could never quote you a price for the proper estate plan that will carry out your wishes. It is best to allow your lawyer to collect information about you, design a plan for you and then inform you as to the price of that plan. You an your attorney can then dissect that plan to fit your budget and desires. If you would like to speak to an attorney in the Chicagoland area about an Estate Plan, that will include a Will, go to my website by clicking The Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole. As always, feel free to ask questions and post your comments. I love to answer reader questions and get suggestions about future posts.