The Importance Of An Estate Planning Questionnaire

What Information Should You Provide To Your Estate Attorney?

 You can obtain a copy of our very effective Estate Planning Questionnaire & Diagnostic Form by calling 610-933-8069.  Mention this article and we will send it out to you at no charge!

Before meeting with an attorney to discuss estate or elder law planning, you should assemble personal and financial information to bring with you.  This will make your initial consultation with your attorney significantly more productive.  A completed comprehensive questionnaire will allow the attorney to better assess the planning that is best for you in a timely and efficient manner.

That outline should list the approximate value of each asset you own and whether an asset is owned individually or jointly.  If jointly owned, you should identify whether the asset passes to the surviving joint tenant(s) at death or whether the joint interest remains a disposable asset of the estate.

You should identify all assets for which you have designated beneficiaries.  Such assets include life insurance, IRAs, 401ks, other retirement plans, annuities, pension plans, in-trust-for accounts, and pay-on-death accounts.  Be sure to distinguish whole life, universal life, and term life insurance and should mention special life insurance provisions.  For example, some term policies waive the need to pay premiums if the owner becomes incapacitated.  Additionally, who is the insured?  In some situations, one person may buy insurance on the life of another.  Also, determine if there is cash value in the policy.

Determine whether there are any documents which would affect an individual’s assets at his or her death.  For example, A Buy-Sell Agreement might provide that stock in a certain corporation must be offered to the corporation or its shareholders at a formulated price before it can be offered for sale to a third person.  A Pre-Nuptial Agreement might provide that a surviving spouse has the right to reside in the decedent’s home for the remainder of his or her life.

What is your monthly income?  From what sources?

Are you a Veteran of a Foreign War?  If so, you might be entitled some significant Veteran’s benefits.

Do you have any significant liabilities?  List all of your mortgages, credit lines, credit card debts and other liabilities so that the attorney can account for them.

Who do you want to serve in the various fiduciary positions and who should succeed such person or persons if the named fiduciaries are unable to serve?  ie.  Who should act as Executor, Trustee, Power of Attorney?

Who do you want to be the beneficiaries of your estate?  What if one of your initial beneficiaries passes away before you, who inherits then?

Do you want to protect your assets so that they will be protected from divorces, creditors and law suits that might occur in the lives of your beneficiaries?

Do you want to protect assets so that they will not be lost to the rising cost of long term care?  There is great planning that you can utilize to provide this protection.

What are the names, ages, and addresses of family members and beneficiaries?

Have you considered charitable gifts?

Where you want your personal property to be distributed upon your passing?

These are just some of the questions we pose in the questionnaire we provide to our clients.  Suffice it to say, the better prepared you are before your meeting, the better the result you will get at the time of your first attorney consultation.

Some of the other most common planning considerations are:  Creation of Last Will & Testament, Creation of a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust, use of a Medicaid Compliant Immediate Annuity, qualification of the Family Caregiver Exception, creation of the Caregiver Agreement, Irrevocable Burial Reserve, Monthly Gifting Exception, Elder Law Friendly Financial Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, Living Will.

Check out our other great articles throughout this site that more specifically address the different ways to protect and preserve your assets.  Click here:  Blog Articles to Check Out!

For PA Residents:  To request our informative Elder Law Guides click here:  Can I Get The Elder Guide, Please?

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For assistance developing a comprehensive estate plan or nursing home asset protection plan in Pennsylvania, please contact Douglas L. Kaune, Esquire at (610) 933-8069 or email him at Doug’s entire practice is focused on elder law, Medicaid application, estate planning, trust planning, estate administration and protection of clients’ assets from nursing home spending and estate and inheritance taxation.

Unruh, Turner, Burke & Frees, P.C. is a full service law firm which has three convenient office locations in Phoenixville, West Chester and Paoli, Pennsylvania. The firm primarily services clients in Chester, Montgomery, Delaware, Philadelphia, Bucks and Berks Counties, but can represent clients throughout Pennsylvania.