The purpose of the initial consultation is for you, the client, to meet the attorney and share your thoughts, concerns, and needs with them.  The attorney will tell you what, if anything, can be done to address your concerns, and how much it will cost you.  The purpose is not to give the client definitive legal advice, as it may be impossible to fully assess the matter at the first meeting.  After or during the meeting, the client decides whether to hire or retain the attorney.  If the attorney chooses to handle your case, the attorney will give you a retainer agreement or contract for legal services that quotes the fee.

It is important to come to your meeting prepared.   I ask clients to bring their current will, if any, and tax returns for the last two years.  Being ready for the meeting also entails thinking about what your assets are and who you would like to give them to before going to the estate planning meeting.  Think about whether you have any beneficiaries with special considerations.  Maybe your child has special needs, or you have a diabetic cat.  You should also consider what information others will need if they are going to handle your family’s financial matters in your absence.  Tell the attorney exactly how your assets are held. 

Many attorneys will provide you with a form that will help you organize the information you need for the planning session, as we call it here.  I am providing a copy of the form my firm uses here: estate planning questionnaire.  After scheduling an office consultation, clients fill out the form and either mail it in before the meeting or bring it in with them.  Some clients are more comfortable providing the information requested in this form in person during our initial consultation and that is okay too.  Any information clients provide is confidential. 

An estate planning attorney licensed in your state will be able to help you create enforceable documents under current state law.  Do not hesitate to ask about fees up front or whether an attorney will be meeting with you.  At my firm, you will always meet with me, and I will personally customize estate planning tools for you.  I use value-based pricing and will charge a fixed, flat fee for most services.  Half of the fee will be payable in advance, with the other half due upon completion.  Please do not hesitate to contact me to schedule an estate planning consultation or a telephone consultation with me.  I look forward to hearing from you!

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