Every person’s situation is unique, and therefore not all aspects of the estate planning process are the same for all of our clients. However, if you were to retain us to help you complete an estate plan for you and your family, our procedure for completing the plan would typically look something like the following:
- Initial Meeting
First, we should schedule a time to meet together in person. Prior to the meeting, we generally request that you complete a brief questionnaire ahead of the initial meeting so that we are aware of your general financial and family situation as well as your overall estate planning goals. During that initial meeting, we would discuss the decisions that you will need to make, if you have not already made those decisions, and what options are available to you to achieve your estate planning objectives. Depending upon the nature of your particular situation, as well as your own preferences, we can agree to a legal fee arrangement based either a “per hour” basis or on a “flat fee” basis.
- Drafts Prepared
After we have all the information we need, we prepare the draft estate planning documents, together with a cover letter that outlines the most important provisions of the documents. These draft documents are usually sent to you within one to two weeks of the initial meeting.
- Communication to Finalize Documents
Once you receive the draft documents, we generally correspond by phone or email to answer questions, address concerns, and make necessary changes to the draft documents. In some instances, clients find it easier to schedule a meeting to review the documents together in our office.
- Meeting to Execute Documents
Once the documents are finalized, we schedule an office conference to meet to sign the documents. Because of the legal formalities associated with signing these documents, it is best to schedule this last meeting in our office.
- Assistance with Asset Titling and Beneficiary Designations
During our last meeting, we discuss the steps necessary to change ownership on certain assets or make any necessary changes to beneficiary designations for life insurance policies or retirement accounts.
We view all of our client relationships as ongoing relationships. Even after completing the estate plan, we hope that our ongoing relationship with you has only started. Our office sends out reminder letters to you every three years just to remind you that as your life changes, so too must your estate planning documents. If changes are necessary to your plan by reason of the change in the tax laws, we send our clients letters summarizing the nature of the tax law change and if the change might require a review of your plan. Of course, we are always happy to answer any questions or concerns that our clients have at any time.