Lahti, Lahti & O'Neill, P.C. Blog

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Inquisitive Lawyer; Why We Ask So Many Questions

By Alicia L. Hoffman

Whether you are a long time Lahti, Lahti & O’Neill, PC client, or have just recently met with us, you have probably noticed the same trend; we ask a lot of questions.  From the status of your health, to the age of your children, to the value of your assets, we want to know it all. You may be wondering why we are so inquisitive. 

In the realm of estate planning and elder law, we make sure no stone goes unturned. When you come to us for advice, we make sure we find out as much information as possible about you, your family, your assets, as well as your wishes and goals. Not only are we using this information to draft estate planning documents for you, but we want to make sure we’ve ruled out any other concerns that you may not have considered, such as estate taxation or exposure to creditors.

Below are routine questions we ask, and some insight into why we ask you these questions:

  • What is the value of your bank account/retirement account/investment account? Estate taxes may be a concern upon your death. Often we can draft documents to help you avoid or reduce taxes.
  • Are your bank accounts/real estate jointly owned? Have you designated beneficiaries on all other accounts and policies? We want to provide advice regarding probate avoidance and/or creditor protection.
  • How old are your children? Are they financially and emotionally stable? You may need to designate legal guardians if your children are minors, or consider having a child serve in a fiduciary role, if they are an adult.
  • Have you ever been divorced? We need to know if your divorce decree provides for limitations on your estate planning.
  • Are your children married? Do you foresee possible marital problems down the road? We may discuss protecting your children’s inheritance from a potential divorce.

These are just a few examples of the many questions we may ask you during an initial meeting. And, what about that pesky questionnaire we’ve asked you to complete? We provide it to you so that you are prepared to answer most of our difficult questions. It also helps you get organized, and list all of your assets in one convenient place. Organization is key for an effective estate plan, and for helping those in charge of your estate, upon your incapacity or death.

So the next time you call our office or come in to see us, please excuse all of our questions. The more we know about you, the better we can assist you with your estate planning needs.

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