Explanation of our Estate Planning Process

(For New Clients -- Foundational Planning)

Initial Meeting (usually 1-2 hours):

This meeting provides an opportunity to share family and asset information and to discuss the type of plan which you really want and which may be most beneficial to you and your family. At the end of that discussion, We will have sufficient information to make a complete disclosure of all fees and costs prior to your incurring any expense whatever and prior to your making any commitment to continue with the planning process.

What to Bring:

At the time the meeting is scheduled, you will be provided with a Confidential Personal Information form (CPI). The CPI should be filled out in advance and brought to the meeting, along with a copy of your prior Will or Living Trust, if any.

  • The Confidential Personal Information form (CPI):

    The CPI is a comprehensive form requesting family and asset information. Although the form is rather long, it actually does not take terribly long to fill out.

    It is extremely important that the CPI be filled out completely and accurately, since the information contained in it will provide the foundation building blocks for your estate plan for years to come and, in fact, even for the post-mortem administration of your estate. In particular, it is necessary to value your assets as closely as reasonably possible, since a substantial over-valuation or under-valuation can result in a blown estate plan and have undesirable tax consequences at death.

    It is also necessary to provide all requested account numbers and addresses to allow us to properly "fund" the estate plan ("funding" means titling your assets so that they are fully included in the estate plan).

    You can save yourself a lot of time in writing addresses and account numbers by simply bringing a copy of a recent bank statement, investment account statement, etc. which our staff can photocopy and return to you, allowing you to write only the words "see attached" on the lines requesting addresses and account numbers. We recommend this as a way to reduce your time in filling out the form as well as to eliminate transcription errors.

  • Choice of Helpers:

    This form is designed to get you thinking about the "people resources" in your life, since you will have an opportunity to select successor trustees (after your death or disability), attorneys-in-fact, health care surrogates, and guardians for minor children, if any. The information you place on this form is not the last word, because we are not going to take this information and simply plug it into a form document. You will be allowed to make later changes and decisions regarding your choice of helpers after counseling with me during the estate plan design process.

    At the end of the Preparatory Meeting and following full disclosure of all fees and expenses, those who wish to continue with the process will then schedule a Design Meeting.

Design Meeting (usually takes approximately 2-2½ hours):

At the Design Meeting, the client and attorney will explore the client's concerns, goals and dreams for his or her family and loved ones. Together we will develop an estate plan to enable the client's selected beneficiaries to achieve family objectives, including wealth transfer, tax minimization/avoidance, remarriage protection for the surviving spouse, and a host of protections selected by the client for the children or other beneficiaries, including enhanced creditor protection, divorce protection, spendthrift protection, and prudent asset management. We will counsel clients on various methods designed to achieve these important personal protections. Through this design process, clients will actually "drive" the estate plan and will have the final say-so on how various objectives will be achieved.

Attorney and client will enter into a simple Retainer Agreement and clients will pay 50% of the design fee. The attorney will prepare a written diagram of the estate plan during the design meeting, which will be provided to the client.

The next appointment, for review and signing of the documents, will be scheduled.

Document Review and Signing Meeting (usually takes about 2 hours):

At this meeting, clients will have an opportunity to review the documents with the attorney. We will walk you through each of the documents, as well as the issues addressed in the documents, and we will refer to the written diagram of the estate plan and relate it to the words on the printed page.

A written funding strategy will also be developed and provided to the client.

The balance of the design fee is due at this meeting.

Funding Process:

Attorney will assist client in retitling client's assets in order to obtain maximum benefit from the estate plan. The funding fee is due at this time.

Regular Updating (optional):

Regular updating of estate plans is offered at a very nominal cost. Clients are offered the opportunity to participate in a bi-annual updating program in order to keep their estate plan current with continuing changes in the law. Most clients participate in this program and find it to be a low cost way to review and update their plans on a regular basis.

How to Begin:

Simply call our office to make a reservation (with your spouse, if you are married) to attend one of the free educational classes. Your estate plan can usually be completed approximately a month after attending the class. (This time period can be shortened in emergency cases.)


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