As an Elder Law attorney, I meet with people all the time. I want them to get more than they expect from their visit. There are ways to accomplish this.
If you are about to see an estate planning or elder law attorney, what steps should you take?
One, if you have any estate planning documents already, bring them with you.
When a client brings in estate planning documentation, I can look through it just to verify everything is written correctly and make sure they do what they are written to do and comply with statute. This way, there is no guess work.
If, for example, I’m reviewing a power of attorney, I can get a copy of it for my records and make sure it is recorded at the register of deeds. This is important.
If reviewing a Will, I’m looking to make sure it still complies with your wishes, as the Will may have been written ten or twenty years before. I also want to make sure it complies with North Carolina law, as this changes from time to time.
Two, it’s great if you can fill out the client information sheets before you turn up at the office. At my office, we email the information sheets to you and ask that you send it back through email. This automatically goes straight into our digital client information system. The information you provide can help me understand how best to deal with your situation. I then have time to do any research to further help your cause.
Now, some people can be hesitant to give my office information about their finances, and I understand that. They want to know, why are you asking me about my retirement? Why are you asking me about my assets? But as an elder law attorney, and especially as an estate planning attorney, I really need to know what’s going on financially to be able to help. This is about planning your estate, and without the financial information, it would be very difficult to do that successfully.
For instance, a plan will be very different for someone who has several million dollars, plus long-term care insurance, versus someone with several hundred thousand dollars and no long-term care insurance. Each estate plan is tailored to the individual.
Three, research. When potential clients sign up for consultations, they get access to our e-newsletter and receive emails ahead of the consultation. This can help them to do some research of their own, which is a good thing. I love to meet with clients who already have a good idea what they want. It allows us to cover more ground in a shorter space of time. This makes everything more efficient.
Finally, go into a consultation with an open mind. This is important because you may think you need one thing, for instance, a Trust, and I mention this all the time, but I talk more people out of Trusts than into Trusts. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some great Trusts, but most people who think they need a Trust, want it for probate of Wills, or they perceive tax issues that may not be a reality for them at that moment. So, it’s good to have an open mind because I may have a more efficient solution for you.
These are some of my tips for getting the most out of your visit to an attorney. For more information, visit mcelderlaw.com and sign up for our e-newsletter. If you have any questions, please give me a call, Greg McIntyre at 704-259-7040.
Elder Law Attorney