At JGB, the estate planning process begins even before we first meet with you. Each client or prospective client is sent an Information sheet to fill out and submit ahead of a planning meeting, allowing the attorney time to review it and start preparing ahead of time. Some people submit forms that are half-empty because they feel very uncomfortable about disclosing such information. They wonder, "why does JGB want to know all this," "what are they going to do with this information, " and "will this information affect my bill." Those are valid questions.
The information we request from you on the Information Sheet provides the foundation for our attorneys to work from, enabling them to specifically tailor an individualized estate plan based on your unique situation and goals. Your estate plan will only be as good as the information you provide; and providing us with a completed sheet ahead of time improves your JGB attorney's efficiency and effectiveness. Our fees are fixed based on the servfices you hire us to perform. A true and reasonably accurate disclosure of your assets will improve your JGB attorney's ability to provide legal advice.
A well-crafted estate plan can minimize the time, hassle, fees, taxes, and other costs following your incapacity or death. Loved ones may need a particular level of assistance or oversight, and certain assets may have legal entanglements. Developing a workable estate plan involves considering all aspects of your financial life, including insurance policies, retirement accounts, real property, investments, savings, cryptocurrency, as well as any special tangible belongings.
Throughout the planning process, you decide who will manage your affairs, during your lifetime or following your death, plus how and when others will receive your assets. Your JGB attorney can only provide the best advice when they have a complete picture of what is involved. We do not need to know the exact value or detail of each asset - a rough estimate is fine.
Efficient Use of Meeting Time
When you share information about your assets in advance, your JGB attorney can review the details and come prepared with important follow-up questions and recommendations. This avoids spending a significant portion of your meeting time collecting basic asset information, allowing for a faster, more productive, and focused discussion.
Identifying Potential Issues
Your JGB attorney can often spot potential issues or complications related to your assets early on. For example, your beneficiary designations may conflict with your overall estate plan. In some situations, complex financial or legal implications may require additional research and analysis. A basic knowledge of your assets also enables your JGB attorney to explore tax planning strategies to minimize estate and income taxes. Identifying and addressing these issues at the start of the planning process saves time, effort, and potential headaches in the future.
Completing the form prompts you to take a closer look at your assets. This can lead to the discovery of accounts you’ve forgotten about, overlooked family property, or the realization of the full scope of your financial resources. Having all relevant information identified and compiled onto one document can provide a sense of clarity over your financial situation and help you feel more prepared to make decisions (or ask questions) regarding your estate plan.
ALL OF YOUR INFORMATION IS KEPT STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL. This confidentiality is critical to establishing trust and an open relationship between the client and attorney, allowing for candid discussions that lead to the development of a comprehensive and effective estate plan. We are bound by the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct, which include strict guidelines for protecting clients’ and prospective clients’ confidentiality. We pledge that the personal and financial information you provide will always be treated with the utmost respect and used solely for the purpose of helping create and manage a comprehensive estate plan that reflects your wishes and your values.
In summary, completing and submitting the Information Sheet to us ahead of time helps both you and your JGB attorney come to the meeting more prepared, which sets the stage for a positive and productive estate planning experience. It is the first step towards crafting a well-thought-out plan that meets your needs and goals. The more information you share, the better we can serve you and protect your assets and loved ones.