Initial Consultation: What to Expect?

What should I expect at an estate planning consultation?

My initial consultations average about two hours – sometimes less, sometimes a bit more. It usually takes that long for me to get the ‘lay of the land’, so to speak, in regard to what your estate entails, and to flesh out any ‘family dynamics’ (especially with blended families) that may impact your options and influence your choices. And, while it may seem obvious, estate planning done well requires a discussion of your income, assets, and family dynamics. All conversations are strictly confidential.

It is, generally, best not to bring any third parties with you to your consultation – at least not your initial consultation. There are various reasons for this. First, conversations between you and your attorney with a third-party present are, generally, not privileged. While that may seem like an issue with criminal matters, only, it can become an issue with any attorney-client matter. Second, the attorney needs to know that his/her prospective client is speaking freely and not being unduly influenced by any third parties – kids, grandkids, etc. I understand that sometimes it makes sense for a third party to be involved in some of the discussion. Such a request by the client can usually be accommodated, provided the attorney has had sufficient time to speak with the client in private, and there appears to be no danger of actual undue influence... or the appearance of undue influence. Many factors play into this determination.  

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