How To Help Your Lawyer — And Self

Before meeting with your attorney about your estate plan, you can take steps to save time and money. Here are four tips:

  1. Prepare an inventory of your estate. Since your estate plan will essentially direct the transfer of your assets at death, you should compile a list of all your holdings and obligations. What do you own? How much is it worth? Where is it located? How are the various assets owned (jointly, separately, etc.)? List any memberships (country club, time-shares, etc.). What are the beneficiary designations on your bank, brokerage and retirement accounts and your insurance policies? How much do you owe and to whom?

    This will take some time and force you to get all your records in order. But the process will be instructive for you and timesaving when your attorney begins to quiz you about these details. It is easy to overlook some assets, so be as thorough as possible.

  2. Select key people you want to involve. Whom do you want to oversee the probating of your estate (your personal representative)? Whom do you want to serve as the trustee of any trusts created by your will? Whom do you want to be the guardians of any minor children you might have? And do not forget about your power-of-attorney and health care documents.

    You will need not only primary names, but also back-up names in case your first choices are unable or unwilling to serve. If possible, have two additional names for each position. Having all these questions answered before visiting your attorney will make your meeting easier and more time efficient.

  3. Decide what to give family members. This can be one of the most difficult parts of the whole process. Indeed, some people endlessly delay getting a will because this step is either too perplexing or too painful. There are many issues to consider. Too much inheritance may stifle personal initiative and feelings of self-worth. One child may be careless with money, another disciplined. One may have physical needs requiring extra assistance. One may be self-sufficient, another financially strapped. How much is too much? How little is too little?

    You might want to discuss this subject with a trusted friend or personal advisor. And remember, with a will you can always change your mind later. The important thing is to at least get a plan in place for now.

  4. Determine your charitable bequests. Which organization(s) do you want to support with gifts from your estate? Of course, we at Saint Leo University hope you will include us in your plans. Your estate gift will make a difference and help us continue this important work into the future.

    A charitable giving component to your estate plan can have significant meaning to your survivors and communicate your values in a powerful way. It can also help you establish a legacy that will outlive your children and grandchildren.


Is Saint Leo University a part of your estate? Contact us at (352) 588-8415 or if you would like to include a gift to Saint Leo University in your estate plan.

The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in examples are for hypothetical purposes only and are subject to change. References to estate and income taxes include federal taxes only. State income/estate taxes or state law may impact your results.