Heritage recently sat down with Heritage Legacy Society member and estate planning attorney Mark James of Lancaster, Pennsylvania for advice on estate planning as well as his thoughts on why he’s chosen to remember Heritage in his own plans.
Heritage: Is there any advance homework a person can or should do before their first appointment with an estate planning attorney?
Mark: I give my clients a brief questionnaire to help them clarify what I call “The Three P’s of Estate Planning”: People, Property, and Plans. For “people,” you’ll need to determine who will receive the assets from your estate. It sounds simple, but there’s often more than meets the eye. I’ve had clients who had originally planned to divide assets equally among all their children, but after some prompting, realized that special safeguards should be put in place due to a problematic or spendthrift child.
Similarly, it’s helpful to take inventory of your “property” to estimate the value of your estate. Not only will it be helpful to your attorney in determining potential estate taxes, but it’s also important to know how your assets are titled, whether you own real estate in a different state, and what portion of your estate’s value is in real estate, retirement accounts, and financial assets for example. Continue Reading »