ME: What’s the estimated value of your estate?
CLIENT: I don’t know.
ME: Can you make an educated guess?
Because you’ve asked me to plan your estate, and I need details.
It’s hard to hand valuable information over to an attorney you might have just met, but there is no other way for us estate planners to do our jobs.
We need a total estate value to make the threshold decision about whether the plan should include estate tax planning.
We need to know what assets either spouse owned before they got married because community property is treated differently than separate property.
We need to know your ex-spouse’s name so we understand your family situation, and some of us will want to mention that prior relationship specifically to help make things clear when someone looks at your trust 20 years later.
We need to know what assets you own because some (like retirement accounts, S-corp stock, and interests in closely-held businesses) raise particular tax concerns.
Dear Potential Clients, please understand that providing clear facts and solid information will make the planning process much more efficient. Getting details upfront helps me set a fee you can rely on, which is fair for the work I’ll do for you. I will not charge more just because you have a significant estate.