Drafting an estate plan is a highly collaborative process between an estate attorney and a client. Understandably, most clients enter into the relationship hoping to be able to ask the attorney for the simplest document possible, and that the attorney can then take it from there. Putting together a good estate plan, however, even a relatively simple one, requires clients to assemble a comprehensive list of all their assets and liabilities. It further requires clients to realistically and honestly consider where the potential pitfalls of the plan that they are asking the attorney to create lie. And then finally, it is imperative that clients reevaluate their estate plans at least every few years. This usually requires at least a couple of meetings with the attorney, and probably 5-10 hours of the client’s time during the initial estate plan construction, even on the simplest matters.
A good attorney will, of course, provide guidance on each of these steps, but a client’s active involvement in the process is a critical determinant in ensuring that the final product accurately carries out his or her wishes.