Estate Planning Process

     After meeting with many clients to discuss their estate planning, our office has recommended Revocable Living Trusts as the cornerstone for virtually all of their estate plans.  A living trust offers complete control to clients during their lifetimes, provides for them and their loved ones in the event of their incapacity, and upon death allows them to pass their assets to their loved ones without the costs, delays, and publicity associated with probate.
 
     We start with the premise that every estate, regardless of its size, is an important one.  Whatever the size of your estate, you have spent your life accumulating it and want to preserve it from unnecessary taxes and administration fees and costs so that you can plan in a meaningful way for those you care about.
 
     It is our policy to require an Engagement Letter to avoid misunderstandings as to the scope of legal services to be rendered.  The Engagement Letter should be read over, signed, and returned to us so we may begin working for you.
 
     Our comprehensive process incorporates at least two, and frequently three, attorney meetings.  At the Design Meeting, we will review your assets with you and learn about you and your loved ones.  We do a lot of listening at this meeting, and ask some questions.  After you have taught us about you and your family, we will then explain some of the most important aspects of estate planning and the law.  Finally, we will work together to decide on the details of your estate plan. A plan that is  custom-designed to meet your specific needs and goals.  Within two weeks of the Design Meeting we will deliver a draft version of your Estate Planning documents for your review and approval.  Once you receive the drafts, you have the greatest impact on allowing the process to continue.  We find some clients are very prompt in reviewing their drafts and contacting us to arrange our next meeting, while others delay the process.
 
     The next step is a Review Meeting at our office.  However, if you prefer, we can perform the review meeting by phone or by email correspondence. During this stage we will answer any questions you have about your plan and note any corrections to names or other information that you have identified.  Through the course of conversation, we may find that some changes to your estate planning documents are necessary and will make those changes after the meeting.  We require that you let us know about all necessary changes at this time. 
 
     You must approve the Estate Planning documents before the Trust Signing Meeting can be scheduled.  It is important that you complete a diligent review of the draft version of your documents before we proceed to the signing  meeting. We prepare a comprehensive Estate Planning Portfolio that includes much more than just your estate planning documents. Seemingly minor changes can result in far more work than you may expect. More important, our experience shows that last minute changes lead to increased errors.  Therefore, the time involved in making changes that are outside of our established preparation and review process may cause us to delay or postpone the scheduled Signing Meeting.
 
     Once you approve the draft documents, you will return to our office for the Trust Signing Meeting.  At this time, we will have prepared your entire estate plan and Estate Planning Portfolio.  During this meeting, you will sign your estate planning documents and we will work together to create a Funding plan for your assets.  One week after the Trust Signing Meeting, our office will send you a letter summarizing the decisions you made regarding funding your living trust.  If applicable, we will also include customized  Beneficiary Designation Language for any qualified retirement plans or IRAs that you own.
 
     It is always our goal to work closely with you to provide you with the information you need to make good choices for yourself and your loved ones.  If ever our staff can answer any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our office; we welcome your calls.