Can we walk through the intake sheet from my estate planning?

We have tried to create the intake sheet so that it makes a lot of sense even if you’re not an estate planning lawyer. Let’s walk through it.

The first page is telling me about your family. Who you’re married to? Who did you use to be married to? It’s not always fun to talk about, but we do need to know that information.

The next page is about your children if you have any. Were they adopted? Do they have any special needs? Are they minors? Are any deceased? These questions help us know the whole story.

The next page starts to talk about who gets what. On the top of page three (sometimes page two) we discuss special gifts. Special gifts are “I want to give my car to this person. I want to give my jewelry to that person.” We don’t recommend this and we state that. But if you do have a special request, feel free to write that in this area. We’ll talk about some strategies about how to handle that, such as just to give the gift right now.

After special gifts, the document asks about how old your children should be when they get money. We recommend 25, not except for health, education, support, and maintenance before that.

The documents then get into if you’re going to disinherit anybody. Next is the management of the estate, which is the, “who’s in charge” part. The executor of the trustee will be the person who’s going to carry out your wishes for you after you die. It is very important and commonly it is a spouse, but it doesn’t have to be.

We don’t recommend co-trustees or co-executors. There have been too many situations where they don’t get along and every decision becomes a problem. Or one of them lives in Virginia and just getting the signature is tough. We will do it on occasion once we talk to you about the implications of that.

The next page is about guardians of minor children if you have any, which is a very big decision. If not, you can put not applicable.

The next two pages are for your powers of attorney in advance directive. Who’s going to make decisions for you if you become incapacitated? This is going to be really similar to who you’ve chosen for the trust, the trustee, and the executor.

The health care page also talks about “Do I want to be kept alive on life support?” We have a provision that we’ve drafted that almost all of our clients really appreciate. There’s a place to select yes on this page for that.

The last page of the intake sheet is asset information. This tells us what you have. We don’t need any values or account numbers because what if I have to follow up with the court down the road. We also like to know who your key advisors are usually discussed on page 9. We’d like to know who else you’re working with so that we can involve them in the process if necessary. There’s no additional cost to tell us that. Last are any documents you have like your current will, business or partnership agreements, or pre-nuptial agreements. If you don’t have any of those, come to the meeting anyway.

An intake sheet is basically the foundation used to build your trust. Once this is filled out, we will be able to create your documents, usually within about two to three weeks, and then you’re good to go. We go over all this with you at your first meeting. If you can’t figure it out, just bring it with you half-filled out or not filled out, and we’ll do it with you.

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