The value of information gathering: Hidden roadmap

Although this topic could apply to multiple practices, we are talking about it in the context of estate planning and family law. They are different sides of the same coin. Family law focuses on dividing your assets between you and your spouse, whereas estate planning is about preserving your assets for future heirs, protecting your assets, and planning for your incapacity. Regardless of your legal concerns, having the proper documentation and information allows your attorney to map and plan your next steps. 

Why It Is Important In Estate Planning

When you meet with your estate planning attorney, you must know what assets you possess and their value. This will be part of your initial conversation with your attorney, and you will get the most out of that meeting by showing up prepared to answer these questions. Furthermore, your attorney needs to have a firm understanding of your assets to advise you appropriately. Once you know what your assets are, how much they are worth, and begin creating an estate plan, then you can start mapping the plan. Keep in mind that this map is ever changing. In other words, estate planning is going to happen throughout your life as your assets, beneficiaries, and fiduciaries (executors, trustees, and agents appointed within your documents) change. Keeping your map up to date is incredibly important.

For instance, if you create a will, check it at least once a year to ensure the information is current. Additionally, make a list of your assets and include information such as where the account is held, last four on the account number, how the account is titled, and who should be contacted in the event of your death. Do not leave your loved ones guessing where your assets may be located and cold calling financial institutions to find out if you have an account at their financial institution. And, do not forget about your usernames and passwords. By keeping your map and estate planning documents up to date, you are saving a lot of time and headache for your loved ones. 

From a Family Law Perspective

In many cases, two people choose to divorce after years of poor communication. When this happens, one of the spouses may know very little about the financial situation, where the records are, what bills exist, what bank accounts exist, etc. To help your attorney, gather as much information as possible. If you don’t have access to tax or bank records, explain this to your attorney, and they will let you know if it is a problem. 

There will be time for additional evidence gathering during the discovery phase. Your attorney will make requests for statements and admissions. The more information and documentation you provide, the less expensive the process could be. If your attorney asks you whether you and your spouse have a retirement account or a life insurance policy, and you don’t know, then your attorney will have to commit time and resources to find them. 

Meet the Attorneys at Select Law Partners, PLLC

We are your family’s law firm because we handle the issues your family will most likely face. This includes family law, estate planning, mediation, asset protection, traffic, and criminal defense. Our skilled attorneys share a common goal: to craft custom solutions to your most complex problems. Contact Select Law Partners, PLLC, to schedule your consultation

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Sara Josey

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