A question I get asked a lot is: What is the process for estate planning? And the good news is it’s easier than you think.
I’m Sarah Siedentopf. I’m an estate planning and probate attorney in Atlanta, Georgia. One of the first, first, first questions I get on a regular basis is: What documents do I need to find to bring in to you? What do I need to have ready? And the answer really is nothing.
Now, I love it when you have a copy to the deed, to your house. Love it. But if you don’t, I will find it. And that really is the only document that, in most cases, I want. Other than that, I want you, and it is a question and answer process that we will go through to create your estate plan. And that question and answer process goes both ways.
I will ask you questions. Who do you want to be your executor? And you’ll give me answers. You’ll also ask me questions. What makes a good executor? How do I decide? And I will give you answers. So I try to make it as easy as possible. It is guided. I have done this before. I know which questions to ask, and I have answers to the questions that you will ask.
After we have answered all of your questions and answered all of my questions, I will draft the documents for you, and then you’ll get a chance to look at them and read them, and then we have another question and answer session. That’s the part where you say, “Hey. it says, blah, blah, blah, “and I don’t know what that means. “What does it mean?” And I will translate the legalese for you. And also you can say, “Hey we really need to change this. “Once I saw this in writing, I realized this just didn’t feel right. This isn’t who I wanted.” And then we update it. And then once you’ve got everything exactly how you want it, we schedule a signing, and you have your estate plan. There aren’t too many things, other than yourself, that you need to have ready. Obviously, if you have someone else involved in your estate planning with you, it’s always nice when you’ve had some of these conversations ahead of time, but I’m also perfectly prepared to open up the hard questions in my office for the first time and let you work through them with me.
But really and truly, estate planning is easier than you think, because it is a question and answer, and then I will draft documents based on your answers. If you’ve got more questions about how estate planning works, please give me a call, and I also love to have comments.