Most people go through the process of creating a will with the same lawyer who may handle divorces, real estate transactions, and drunk driving arrests, and leave everything to a spouse or child. If your life has become more complicated, but you still have a simple will, it may be time to reexamine your will with an expert in estate planning.
Make sure to get referrals and interview lawyers, asking specific questions about their ability to handle your assets. Chicago partner David Handler mentioned that there are many different circumstances that bring people in for their second will, such as disabled children, divorce, ballooning wealth, changing tax laws, or planning to bequeath a business to their children. It is important to come to an estate planner with a detailed list of your assets as well as what you are trying to achieve with your estate. Finally, make sure that your lawyer discusses more than just how to minimize estate taxes. You should also discuss power of attorney, retirement accounts, life insurance, and property.
This article appeared in its entirety in The Wall Street Journal on May 26, 2004.