Questions to Ask Before an Estate Planning Meeting
By Zachary Mushkatel on April 23, 2013
Before you meet with an experienced Phoenix estate planning attorney like the team at Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC, you may wish to consider several questions. Careful consideration of your answers to these questions can help you clarify what will likely be part of your estate and what you want to happen after you pass away. With this knowledge, you can communicate more effectively with your attorney, who can then more easily develop the estate plan that best reflects your wishes.
Once you have made an appointment to speak to your attorney, consider the following questions:
- What do you have? Consider making two lists: the assets you have and the debts you owe. Include bank accounts, land, machinery, livestock, retirement accounts, vehicles, and other assets on one side, and loans, mortgages, credit cards, and other debts on the other. For estate planning, assets are typically valuated based on “fair market” value.
- How are your assets titled? Who holds your assets and in what way will affect how they are split if you or your spouse dies. Finding out how your assets are titled can help your attorney determine if they will transfer easily to the person you want to receive them, or if a change is needed.
- Who do you want to leave your assets to? This question is particularly important to discuss if you are married. How should your assets be divided, and who should receive what?
- How do you want to pass on a family business? If you have a family business or farm, do you want it to continue as a single business or farm entity – and if so, is it sufficiently financially solvent to survive a transfer of ownership? Even if you do not know the answers, gathering financial statements and other information that could help you answer the question will also help your attorney.
Zachary Mushkatel is an Arizona native who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona in 2001 and his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2004. After serving as a public defender, he entered into private practice and, ultimately, joined forces with Mathis Becker to form the law firm known today as Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC. In addition to criminal law, Mushkatel practices civil litigation, with a focus on estate litigation and personal injury cases. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce and Sun Valley Lodge, and he is an executive officer and member of the Board of Directors for the West Maricopa County Bar Association.