Our Process For Creating Life and Estate Plans
During our first planning meeting, we will discuss your hopes, your fears, and your dreams and aspirations for yourself and your family. We will review your current plan and discuss how well your current documents accomplish your goals. Then we will generally discuss the options available for planning, looking at the issues you are concerned about and what you want for yourself and your family. At the end of the meeting, we will discuss the specific recommendation to accomplish your goals for yourself and your family. For most of our clients, the cornerstone of their planning is a personalized revocable trust-based plan.
In some cases, after we have finished the foundation plan, we will meet to discuss additional tax saving or business succession strategies that will provide additional value to your family.
Our comprehensive process usually includes three to four meetings. Your estate reflects your life’s work and your legacy. Whatever the size of your estate, you have spent your life accumulating it and want to preserve it from unnecessary taxes and costs and plan in the best possible way for those you care about. You have important goals for yourself and your loved ones that go far beyond saving taxes and avoiding probate.
Before our first meeting, we will send you a Goals Identifier Checklist so that you can start thinking about what you want your plan to accomplish. We will also send you a Personal Information Questionnaire so that our meeting can focus on your specific situation, goals, concerns and questions.
At the first meeting, called the Goals Assessment and Planning Meeting, we will review your assets and I will learn about you and your loved ones. I do a lot of listening at this meeting, and ask some questions. After you have taught me about you and your family, I will then explain how some of the most important aspects of estate planning and the law will impact you and your family. At the end of this meeting, I will quote you a flat fee for designing, drafting and implementing the plan that you decide is right for you.
In the Design Meeting, we will then concentrate on creating a life and estate plan custom-designed to meet your specific needs and goals. We will discuss the people who will care for your loved ones in the event that you are unavailable and we will ensure that they have the information and resources they need to do the best job possible.
For simple plans, the design meeting can be included in the initial meeting. Many clients prefer to take advantage of the momentum of our discussion and get started designing their plan immediately; other clients prefer the Design Meeting be scheduled about two weeks after the initial meeting.
About three to four weeks after the Design Meeting, you will return to our office for the Signing Meeting. At this time, we will have prepared your entire estate plan and I will review it with you in detail, carefully explaining each document and pointing out what the documents do for you and how they interact with each other. If the plan meets with your approval, you may sign the documents and put your comprehensive estate plan to work for you. We will make changes you request either at this meeting or a follow up.
This is also where we follow up on the preparation for the important step of “funding” to identify the best title and beneficiary designations to accomplish your goals. We review your assets and get any additional information needed to ensure that title to your assets and beneficiary designations are optimized to carry out your goals.
About two weeks after the Signing Meeting, we will come back together for the Delivery Meeting. After the plan documents are signed, our staff will assemble all the documents and copies into comprehensive Estate Planning Portfolios, which includes sections for explanatory material, as well as other helpful information for family members.
At the Delivery Meeting, I will present you with your completed binder, ensure that the funding of your trust is well under way, and for those of you wishing to provide more specific guidance about who you are and your values with respect to money, education, community and heritage, we will begin the process of capturing that information.