When clients come to me interested in drawing up a will, the first thing I ask them to do is to take stock of their situation and by that, I mean to figure out a few of the basics. If they’re no longer here, how do they want their property distributed? How do they want their estate distributed? Now, if the person is married, most often but not necessarily, they say to me “I’d like my entire estate to go to my spouse.” However, there’s some instances where that may not be appropriate or we need to provide for a situation where both spouses may pass either at the same time or close proximity to each other. So, we often are dealing with ‘what happens if’ or ‘what happens when’ and in that situation we’re often also deal with children or other close relatives. So we ask the individuals to sit down and discuss with us their concerns, their feelings and what they would like to see accomplished. Based on that general, conceptual plan, we’re going to ask them a certain number of questions as well. For instance, if scenario A plays out, how would you like it to be fulfilled? What if scenario B may play out? Would they like it to go this way or that way? We’ll also ask them about their fiduciaries. Who would they like to be executor or executrix? What happens if that person isn’t available or isn’t willing to serve? Who would they like as an alternate or a backup? If their children are involved, we’ll ask about the guardian. Who would they like to appoint as their guardian for their children if they and their spouse are no longer able or alive and able to do this. These are all issues that come up and of course, there are times even when tax considerations come into play. While we’re not exactly tax consultants, we can certainly provide some general guidance and refer people to proper tax planners and experts. All of this is part of the process of sitting down with us to make sure that if we’re going to draw a document for you, that it is going to work and fulfill your wishes and needs.
Marc N. Needelman is an experienced estate planning attorney in Hartford, Connecticut. Contact the law office and set up a free initial consultation if you would like to discuss the steps you need to take to prepare a will.