More often than not, they set up an estate plan because there’s been some kind of occurrence, whether a serious health problem that made them start thinking that they don’t have anything in place, the death of a parent or other relative who left them with a real mess that they don’t want to leave to others, or changes within the family or circumstances that would result in them wanting to put together a plan that would satisfy their objectives.

What Are Some Common Mistakes People Make In Estate Planning?

Procrastination, putting it off, putting it off and putting it off is by far the biggest mistake that people make. Once they do finally address it, at least they’ll have something that presumably will satisfy some of the objectives that they want to accomplish with their estate planning.

Why Is An Initial Interview With A Potential Client So Important?

The initial interview is so critical because that’s where the attorney learns what the client’s goals and objectives are for themselves, for their families and for their loved ones, and that’s what then allows the attorney to craft an estate plan designed to meet those objectives.

What Documents Should Someone Bring To An Initial Consultation?

At the initial consultation, we like to see financial documents, either account statements or a financial statement that they’ve put together for themselves so that we know what kind of net worth we’ll be dealing with; that, in turn, influences the type of planning that we will do; and if they have done any previous estate planning, they should bring in copies of wills, trusts and powers of attorney that they’ve previously signed.

How Long Does It Take To Generally Set Up An Estate Plan?

For a basic foundational plan, which includes a will and/or a revocable living trust, along with financial powers of attorney and healthcare directives, from the time that we meet with the client to design their estate plan to its signing, generally, takes 30 to 45 days.

Is An Estate Plan Expensive?

Expensive is in the eyes of the beholder. The best way that I can answer the question is that for almost everyone, that planning and implementation will provide them with value and keep them within a budget that they can afford. As far as when they need to provide payment, that will depend on what the particular payment terms are of the attorney or law office that they are working with. In our firm, we generally ask for 50% of the quoted fee when we start and 50% when we deliver to them what we promise to deliver.

Who Should Generally Attend The Meeting To Set Up An Estate Plan?

Normally, the only people that would be attending would be the clients themselves. In the case of a married couple, it would be that couple; in the case of a single individual, it would be that single individual.

Is There Anyone That Needs To Be Notified Of Their Role In An Estate Plan?

Yes. Any of the people that you’re designating in your documents to serve in various capacities should not only be notified but, before they are inserted into the documents, their consent to acting in that capacity should be obtained. These people would include guardians being named for minor children, executors of a will and trustees of the trust.

This article was originally published by Steve Spewak on It is republished here with permission.