Share

Madison Wisconsin's Estate Planning Blog

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Important Questions Your Estate Planning Attorney Will Ask You

For many people, the thought of meeting with an estate planning attorney strikes fear into their hearts. It can be uncomfortable to even consider the possibility of no longer being able to manage your own affairs, let alone no longer being alive, with your property and accounts passing to someone else. For far too many people, this causes them to put off the crucial task of estate planning. As a result, they are utterly unprepared when something unfortunate happens to them or their loved ones. And let’s face it: All the legal speak can be confusing and intimidating. Do you need a will? Do you need a trust? Or do you need both? What about powers of attorney? And what the heck is a “living will”?

 

We are here to reassure you that estate planning is not as scary as so many people think it is. For most people, their fear is the result of the unknown. Not knowing what you are going to encounter at an attorney’s office frequently leads people to imagine all kinds of horrible scenarios and ultimately refuse to pull the trigger and set up an appointment. Forewarned, though, is forearmed. By explaining some of the common questions you might encounter when you meet with an estate planning attorney, we hope to help you prepare for your first estate planning meeting and alleviate some of the fear and anxiety that accompanies it.

 

Some Common Questions

 

What keeps you up at night? Though this might seem like an odd question for an attorney to start with, another way of putting this is, “What do you find yourself thinking or worrying about most often with regard to your property, your family, and your future, as well the future of your loved ones?” What the attorney is trying to find out with this kind of question is your motivation for meeting with an attorney in the first place. By identifying your underlying concerns, the attorney will be better able to bring the right legal tools to bear in addressing those concerns. In some cases, the attorney may discover that your most pressing concerns cannot be addressed with legal tools but may require the help of financial, tax, or even healthcare professionals.

 

Maybe you are at the attorney’s office merely because your financial advisor or tax advisor has told you that you need to get an estate plan in place. Perhaps these professionals have considered your finances and your potential future tax liability and are worried that without the tools that only an attorney can provide, there may be a significantly higher tax bill for you or your family in the future.

 

Or perhaps the thing that keeps you up at night is concern for your children. Maybe one of your children has a really rocky marriage, and you are not sure if they will have the financial ability to provide for themselves and their children if the marriage breaks up. How can you protect whatever amount of an inheritance may end up passing to that child from a divorcing spouse? Or maybe you have a child who has special needs and will have significant medical and living expenses in the future because of their condition. Or perhaps you have a child that cannot seem to get ahead in life, has substance abuse issues, or is simply irresponsible with money and regularly needs your help to get back on their feet and headed in the right direction.

 

If these are the kinds of things that keep you up at night, an attorney is going to want to understand your particular circumstances in order to properly draft legal documents that address your concerns.

 

Experienced estate planning attorneys spend ample time with you asking lots of questions to understand the particular dynamics of your family. These types of questions help the estate planning attorney determine where they should spend their time and effort to design an estate plan that will be perfect for your family and address your specific concerns, rather than just telling you what your concerns should be.

 

Worst-case scenario questions. Another question your attorney may ask might go something like this: “Imagine yourself on an island with your spouse, your kids, your grandkids, and even great-grandkids for a huge family reunion. Then imagine that a meteor came out of the sky and hit the island directly, killing everyone.”

 

Why on earth would an attorney paint such a grim picture? This is actually an important question to help you identify where you would want your money to go if you were to pass away and had no remaining natural heirs to inherit your money. This is not entirely theoretical, as there are real-life cases of entire families perishing in a disaster, for example, in a boat or plane accident. Each state has a default law that determines where the money and property of someone who has passed away with no heirs should go. If you do not like what the legislature has decided for you on this question, you may want to change it in your estate plan to ensure your property only goes to your favorite cousin or aunt, a best friend, or your favorite college or church.

 

Death and remarriage questions. A common line of questioning often includes the following type of scenario: “Imagine that you or your spouse were to pass away, and six months later, the survivor of you meets an old high school sweetheart who is single. A romance blooms, and they decide to marry soon after. How comfortable are you with the possibility of all of the money and property you acquired during your marriage becoming jointly owned by your surviving spouse and their new flame? Do you have any concerns about your spouse later dying and leaving everything to the high school sweetheart either intentionally or inadvertently?” If you leave everything that you own to your spouse, and that spouse remarries without taking certain legal steps, your spouse might put what you have left behind at risk of ending up in the hands of a total stranger rather than in the hands of your children or your other intended beneficiaries. By identifying these concerns through this type of questioning, an attorney can help you take steps now, while you are both alive, to ensure that your property is as protected as possible. You will have peace of mind that in the event of a remarriage, or even in the event of a lawsuit against the surviving spouse, you have taken the necessary steps to protect your property from being lost to a new spouse or to creditors or predators, and have ensured that what you leave behind will take care of your spouse until they pass away, and then will go to your chosen and intended beneficiaries.

 

Decisions about minor children. Another extremely important issue an attorney will raise is who should care for your minor children if you no longer can. Related to this question, the attorney will want you to consider who should manage your property and accounts for the benefit of your minor children in the event of your death or disability. Is it best for the people raising your children to be in charge of that money? Or will that invite potential financial abuse and exploitation by those guardians? It may make better sense to have a professional or another family member manage and distribute that money while someone else raises the children.

 

Healthcare decisions. Your estate planning attorney may also ask who should make healthcare decisions for you if you no longer can. This will require you to imagine yourself in a situation where you are receiving healthcare services but are no longer able to communicate your wishes regarding your care. In that case, do you want your spouse making those decisions? Or if you are not married, should it be a family member or a close friend?

 

Your attorney can help you explore the various healthcare scenarios you may encounter as well as the kinds of decisions you are comfortable entrusting to a healthcare agent and those that should not be made by an agent but rather in advance, by you, and documented so that healthcare providers will know what your wishes are with regard to certain types of treatments. Perhaps you never want to receive chemotherapy, radiation, or electroshock therapy. Or perhaps you never want to be placed in a nursing home and would prefer that your money be used to keep you in your own home for as long as possible. If these are decisions you do not want to leave in the hands of others, an attorney can help you identify these scenarios and document your choices.

 

Conclusion

These are just a few of the questions you may encounter when working with an estate planning attorney. Understanding their purpose will help you prepare for a successful and productive meeting. While some of these questions and scenarios may make you feel uncomfortable or even a bit fearful, doing the hard work of thinking through these kinds of scenarios and how you want them handled is an important first step toward responsibly planning for death and disability, which every one of us will eventually face. Trust us, your loved ones will be thankful for your efforts.



Blog Categories

401(k)

AB Trust

ABLE Program

Abuse

Addiction

Adult Beneficiaries

Advancement of share

Agent

Aging

Alcohol abuse

Amendment of Trust

Annual exclusion

Annuity

Armed Service Personnel

Asset Protection

Attorney

Avoid Probate

Basis

Beneficiary

Beneficiary Designations

Birth

Business Succession

Buy-Sell Agreement

Capacity

Caregiver

Celebrity

Changes in life

Changes in tax law

Charitable Planning

Children

Cognitive Impairment

Community Property

Compensation

Conservatorship

Core Values

Corporate Trustee

Court

Creditor Protection

Creditors

Death

Debts

Decanting

Deed

Digital Estate Planning

Discretionary Trusts

Disinherit

Divorce

Divorce Protection

Documents

Driving

Drug abuse

Duress

Dynasty Trust

Dysfunctional Family

Education

Elder Law

Equal Division

Estate Planning

Executor

Fair Division

Family

Farming and Ranching

Fees

Fiduciary

Financial Power of Attorney

Flexibility

Fraud

Funding Your Trust

Funeral

Generational Planning

Gifting

Government Assistance

Grandchildren

GSST

Guardian

Guardianship

Health Care

Health Care Agent/Proxy

Health Savings Account

Heirlooms

Heirs

HIPAA

Holographic Will

House

Incapacity

Income Tax

Inheritance

Instruction

Insurance

Intent Letters

Internet

Inter-vivos Trusts

Intestacy

Inventory

IRA

Irrevocable Trusts

Joint Tenancy

Keepsakes

Kids

Law Firm

Lawsuits

Liability

Liability Insurance

Life Estate

Life Events

Life Insurance

Lifetime Planning

Lifetime QTIP

Lifetime QTIP Trust

Limited Liability Company

Living Probate

Living Trust

Living Will

LLC

Loans

Long-Term Care

Lottery Winnings

Marital Property

Marraige

Medicaid Planning

Meeting

Mental Illness

Minor Children

Money

Moving to/from a State

Myths

Newlyweds

NEWSLETTERS

Nursing Home

Oral Wills

Overseas Estate Planning

Parents

Partners

Payable on Death (POD)

Peace of Mind

Personal Property

Personal Representative

Pets

Physicians

Planning

Portibility

Power of Appointment

Power of Attorney

Predator Protection

Predators

Prenuptual Agreements

Privacy

Probate

Procrastination

Promises

Property

QTIP Trust

Remarraige

Rental Property

Restatement of Trust

Retirement Assets

Review

Revocable Trusts

Saving Money

Simultaneous Death

Special Needs Trusts

Spendthrift Tust

Spouse

Stand Alone Retirement Trust (SRT)

Storage of Documents

Storing Documents

Stress

Successor Trustee

Surgery

Tangible Personal Property Memorandum

Taxes

Testamentary Trusts

Theft

Timeshare

Title

Transfer of Assets

Transfer on Death (TOD)

Trust Administration

Trust Contest

Trust Funding

Trust Protector

Trustee

Trusts

Umbrella Insurance

Unborn Children

Unfinished Estate Plan

Update Planning

Vacation Poperty

Values

Will

Will Contests

Wishes

Year End Strategies

Young Families

Archived Posts

2021
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January
2020
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January
2019
December
November
October
September
August
July
Being Deployed? Here’s What You Need to Do
The Only Constant in Life is Change: When Circumstances Change, So Should Your Estate Plan
Beyond Wills and Trusts: 3 Documents Everyone Needs
Reconsider Outright Inheritances: How to Protect Your Heirs and Your Legacy from Bad Decisions and Outside Influences
Expand Your Cast to Prevent Chaos
Planning for Blended Families: Second or Later Marriages and Divorce of Beneficiaries
The Flexible Protection of Trust-Based Planning
Why “I Love You” Wills Really Don’t Say “I Love You”
Estate Plans for College Students and Other Young Adults: Why It’s the Perfect Time to Set Your Kids Up for Success
Your Guide to Better Incapacity Protection in Your Estate Plan
Are You Familiar With Community Property Trusts?: Learn How These Special Trusts Can Help Reduce Income Taxes
Modernizing an Outdated Estate Plan: What to do with a Confusing, Old Trust
Have You Considered a Dynasty Trust for Your Family’s Estate? Why You Should Think Twice Before Ruling One Out
What if you don’t die?: Why Ignoring the Importance of Incapacity Planning Can Have Serious Consequences
Don’t Put Off Till Tomorrow What You Can Do Today: Why It’s Time to Talk with Your Family and Your Estate Planning Attorney
Who Will Inherit Your Financial Wisdom?: Passing on More Than Just Wealth
How Tax Reform Will Impact You and Your Estate Planning
Will My Debt Outlive Me?: Your Questions About Debt After Death Answered
Planning Your Summer Vacation?: 5 Things to Consider Now
Talk to Your Family over the Holidays about Your Estate Plan
12 Crucial Insights for Protecting Your Furry Family Members
Does Your Family Know About Your Estate Plan?: A Guide for How Much to Share and With Whom
Planning for the Financial Future of a Troubled Adult Child: Your 3-Step Guide to Creating an Informed Estate Plan
Keeping the Peace After You Are Gone: Planning With an Aim Towards Building Unity
Have You Taken Advantage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Planning Window?: Important Estate Planning Tips You Should Act on Now
Back-To-School Preparation: Not Just About the School Supplies- Use This Time to Revisit The Parts of Your Estate Plan That Impact Your Children Most
What Do the New 199A Regulations Mean for You?: New Choices and Opportunities for Tax Savings
Three Legal Strategies When Facing a Major Health Event: What You and Your Family Need to Know
How to Protect Your Retirement Account
2018 Midterm Elections: What Do They Mean For Your Estate Plan?: Strategic Planning Guidance in Light of the Midterm Results
Estate Planning Projects to Tackle in the New Year
Three Liability Planning Tips for Physicians You Can Use Too
June
3 Estate Planning Secrets the Wealthy Use That You Can Too!: Strategies to Enhance Your Success
Five Key Considerations for Your Estate Plan
Your Personal Property Memorandum: 4 Tips for Success
How to Coordinate Your Retirement and Estate Plans
How to Avoid a Disastrous Will or Trust Contest
Is Your Estate Plan Probate-Proof?
Want a Greater Sense of Purpose? Plan Your Legacy
What is Asset Protection and Do I Need It?
Caution: Your Traditional Asset Protection Plan Is Set Up to Fail
Your Vacation Checklist
Estate Plans for College Students and Other Young Adults: Why It’s the Perfect Time to Set Your Kids Up for Success
Does Your Estate Plan Protect Your Adult Beneficiaries?
Discretionary Trusts – How to Protect Your Beneficiaries from Bad Decisions and Outside Influences
Estate Planning Is Not Just About Money
Is Your Estate Plan Unfinished? Don’t Wait to Complete This Important Process!
When Equal Is Not Necessarily Fair
Lifetime QTIP Trusts – The Gift That Keeps Giving
One Year After the Historic 2016 Election: Strategic Estate Planning in Uncertain Times
Funding Your Revocable Living Trust to Avoid Probate
4 Tips for Avoiding a Will or Trust Contest
The Harmonious Family that Won't Fight
3 Asset Protection Tips You Can Use Now
Estate Planning for Rental Property Owners
Estate Planning is More Than Just Death Planning
The Trust Protection Myth: Your Revocable Trust Protects Against Lawsuits
Loan, Gift, or Advancement: Why the Classification Matters
What to Bring to Your First Meeting with the Estate Planning Attorney
April
March
February
January
2018
September
August
July
Not Married? You’re not alone - but you still need a plan. Estate Planning for People Living Together, Bachelors, and Bachelorettes
Are Your Documents Following the Same Script? Basics of Beneficiary Forms and Estate Planning
A Trust for Fluffy or Fido? Why Every Pet Parent Needs to Consider a Pet Trust Today
Roth IRA Conversions After Tax Reform...Still a good idea? What are the implications for your family if you don’t spend all the money?
Estate Planning When Not All of Your Kids are in the Family Business
Beneficiary Designations and a Blended Family: Why You Need to Think Before You Sign
The One Thing Every New Grandparent MUST Do As Soon as Possible
How to Fix 5 Common Estate Planning Problems
How to Leave Your Life Insurance and Retirement Plan to Your Minor Children
Financial Planning. Tax Planning. Legacy Planning. Estate Planning - How many plans do I need?!
Why Not Just Go on NoloⓇ and Create Your Own Estate Planning Documents Cheaply?
3 Things You Must Do Once Your Divorce Is Final
Protecting Your Children’s Inheritance When You are Divorced
Finding the Right Fit: Questions For Prospective Wills and Trusts Attorneys
The Biggest Threat to Successful Estate Planning
Steps For Starting the End-of-Life Conversation
Joint Tenancy Pitfalls: The ‘Simple’ Fix that Can Leave Your Family Broke
One Call You Must Make After You Buy a Home-That You’ve Probably Forgotten
3 Tips For Every New Homeowner
Declare your Independence from Court Interference!
What To Do With Your Beloved Collection
Legal Considerations When Getting Your New College Student Ready to Go
Digital Afterlife- An Estate Plan For Your Facebook Account
How an Estate Planning Letter of Intent Can Help Your Family
Kids and Investors Are Not the Only Options
Retirement Planning for Business Owners
Passing Along a Benefit, Not a Burden - Why Incapacity Planning for Business Owners is an Indispensable Component of Your Plan
March
February
2017
September
August
July
May
April
Updating Your Revocable Trust: How Many “Tweaks” Are Too Many?
U.S. Supreme Court Rules Inherited IRAs are Not Protected from Creditors
4 Tips for Avoiding a Will or Trust Contest
Three Liability Planning Tips for Physicians Anyone Can Use
Three Estate Planning Mistakes Farmers and Ranchers Make and How to Avoid Them
The Wrong Successor Trustee Can Derail Your Final Wishes
The Trust Protection Myth: Your Revocable Trust Protects Against Lawsuits
The Tragic Loss of Star Trek’s Anton Yelchin: Lessons for Estate and Legacy Planning
The Three-Year Review and The Three-Year Plan
The Shocking Truth About Asset Protection Planning
The Pros and Cons of Probate
The Perils of Promises...Marlon Brando’s Story
The Lifetime QTIP Trust: Or (How to Maintain Control of Your Estate and Keep Spouse No. 2 Happy)
The Lifetime QTIP Trust: Or (How to Maintain Control of Your Estate and Keep Spouse No. 2 Happy)
The IRS Took Half of Tony Soprano’s Estate: Don’t Fall into the Same Trap!
The Essential Legal Documents You Need for Incapacity Planning
Surprise! You Can’t Easily Disinherit Your Spouse in the U.S.
Stress Test Your Estate Plan
Sonny Bono’s Procrastination in Creating a Will Led to Years of Estate Battles
Skyrocketing Probate Fees – Another Reason to Avoid Probate Court
Revocable Trust vs. Irrevocable Trust: Which Is Best for You?
Prince’s Sad and Incredibly Expensive Mistake! (Are You Making It, Too?)
3 Powers to Consider Giving to a Trust Protector
Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Will: 3 Critical Mistakes
Parental Warning: If You Own Your Property this Way, You May Accidentally Disinherit Your Own Children
Over 70% of Elvis Presley’s Estate Paid in Taxes & Fees: How Can You Avoid the Same Trap?
Nosey Neighbor Nellie Can Find Out About Your Probate. Really.
Michael Jackson’s Estate Pulled into Seemingly Endless Probate Court Battles
Lifetime QTIP Trusts – The Gift That Keeps Giving
Is Your Estate Plan as Stale as Last Week’s Ham Sandwich? 5 Reasons to Update Your Estate Plan
March
Is a Revocable Living Trust Right for You?
Is a Payable on Death Account Right for You and Your Family?
Irrevocable Trust Decanting in 4 Steps
IRS Announcement: Estate Tax Closing Letters Will Now Only Be Issued Upon Request
Investment, Insurance, Annuity, and Retirement Planning Considerations
If You Die Without a Will, Does Your Spouse Inherit Your Entire Estate?
How to Pick a Trustee, Executor, and Agent Under a Power of Attorney
How to Minimize the (Voluntary) Federal Estate Tax with Portability
How to Minimize Legal Fees After Death
HELP! This Probate Is Taking Forever!!!
Four Steps to Stop Mail Addressed to a Deceased Person
Five Things You Need to Know About the Recently ABLE Act
Flo Jo’s Tragic Mistake: A Missing Will
5 Reasons Why Uncle Bill May Not Make a Good Trustee
Financial Firms Roll Out Form Aimed at Stopping Financial Elder Abuse
5 Reasons to Embrace Estate Planning
Estate Planning: 3 Reasons We Run the Other Way
Estate Planning Basics for Newlyweds – How to Get Prepared for the Unexpected
Escape From a Bad Trust: 5 Strong Reasons to Decant Your Trust
Doris Duke’s Trustee Bilked Estate for $1M: How Well Do You Know Yours?
Don’t Leave Your Trust Unguarded: 6 Key Ways a Trust Protector Can Help You
Does Your Estate Plan Protect Your Adult Beneficiaries?
Who’s Going to Get It: Do You Really Know the Beneficiaries of Your Dynasty Trust?
Dispelling the Top 3 Estate Planning Myths
Discretionary Trusts – How to Protect Your Beneficiaries From Bad Decisions and Outside Influences
Did you include your grandkids in your will? 5 Tips to Avoid Common Problems
Did Whitney Houston Leave Too Much Money To Bobbi Kristina?
Dennis Hopper Saves Heirs with Last Minute Estate Plan Changes
Decanting: How to Fix a Trust That Isn’t Getting Better With Age
Avoiding Guardianship When you are Incapacitated
Decanting: How to Fix a Trust That Isn’t Getting Better With Age
Who Should I Choose as a Successor Trustee
Celebrities Who Failed To Recognize Unborn Children in Their Wills: A Teachable Lesson
February
Caution: Your Traditional Asset Protection Plan is Set Up to Fail
How to Choose a Trustee
Name a Guardian for Your Child
Caution: Creditors Now Have Easy Access to Inherited IRAs
Big Bang Theory Star’s “Ironclad” Prenup Challenged: How Does Yours Compare?
Will Your Family Be Able to Find Your Original Last Will?
Ways to Avoid Court Proceedings
Are Handwritten Intentions Enforceable? Princess Diana Thought So…
An Estate Planning Checklist to Facilitate Wealth Transfer
Aging.gov: A New Resource for Older Americans and Their Families
AB Trusts – Do You Need to Get Rid of Yours?
A Powerful Exercise to Surface the Values You Want to Pass on to the Next Generation
10 Types of Trusts: A Quick Look
5 Tragic Mistakes People Make When Leaving Assets to Their Pets
5 Things Every New Mother Needs to Know About Wills
New Legislation Could Mean the End of Estate and GSTT Taxes What This Means for You and Your Family
5 Reasons to Protect Your Retirement Accounts Now
5 Mistakes Made by Successor Trustees (and How to Prevent Them)
5 Good Reasons to Decant a Trust
3 Ways to Minimize Estate Planning Fees
3 Tips for Overwhelmed Executors
3 Simple Ways to Avoid Probate Costs
3 Reasons You Want to Avoid Probate
Who Needs an Estate Plan?
AB Trusts – Do You Need to Get Rid of Yours?
How to Pick a Trustee, Executor, and Agent Under a Power of Attorney
Better to Play it Safe: Proactive Estate Planning and Cognitive Impairment
Will Your Revocable Living Trust Avoid Probate? It Depends.
Why Your Estate Planning Project Must Morph into a Process
Estate Planning Tips for Commitment Without Marraige
3 Celebrity Probate Disasters and Tragic Lessons
3 Examples of When an Irrevocable Trust Can – and Should – Be Modified
January
2016
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January
2015
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January
2014
2013
2012


Nennig Law Offices, LLC assists clients in Madison, WI and throughout Southern Wisconsin including Verona, Middleton, Sun Prairie, Cross Plains,Sauk City, Belleville, Waunakee, Mount Horeb, Oregon, Black Earth, DeForest,Monona, McFarland, Stoughton, Cambridge, Deerfield and Fitchburg.



© 2021 Nennig Law Offices, LLC
6418 Normandy Ln, Ste 225, Madison, WI 53719
| Phone: 608-661-4333

Estate Planning | Asset Protection | Business Succession Planning | Special Needs Planning | Planning for Children | Advanced Estate Planning | Probate & Estate Administration | Estate Planning for High Net Worth Individuals | Estate Planning with Wills | Trusts & Estate Planning | Estate Planning for Non-Traditional Families | Estate Tax Planning | Estate Litigation | Guardianships | Pet Trusts | COVD-19 | Who We Are | Becoming A Client

Attorney Website Design By
Zola Creative