HOW DO I GET AN ESTATE PLAN?
MY PLANNING PROCESS
In order to provide customized estate plans for my clients, I have developed both a three-step and a four-step planning process specially designed to be both comprehensive and efficient. While I generally provide planning using fixed, flat fees, any deviations from my planning process can create significant time delays and can cost additional attorney and staff time that was not intended to be covered by those fees. If this occurs, additional fees may be assessed, as outlined in my Engagement Letter.
As an estate planning lawyer, my goal is to start and complete the estate planning process with you in three to four weeks from the initial consultation.
Step One: Week 1 - The Initial Consultation Meeting
Prior to any consultation, you will receive confirmation of your meeting date and time, and a simple worksheet to complete and bring with you to your appointment. My planning process starts with a one hour initial consultation meeting. In this meeting, we work together to determines your wishes, desires, needs, and concerns, answer your questions, and outline various estate planning options that are available.
If the joint decision is made at the end of the consultation meeting to engage me to prepare your estate plan, then an Engagement Letter is signed, and a deposit of one-half of the agreed upon fee based on the initial level of planning desired is paid.
Depending on the level of estate planning selected, you will either be interviewed for your estate planning choices as part of the Initial Consultation, or you will then receive a folder with additional worksheets for you to complete as your “homework” prior to your next meeting with me, the Plan Design Meeting.
Step Two: Week 2 or Week 3 - The Plan Design Meeting
If a Plan Design is scheduled, you will meet with me and review your homework assignment. This meeting is when we discuss the planning strategy in its entirety and provide you with a summary of the overall plan. The objective of our plan summary is to simplify the discussion concentrating on an overall understanding of what the plan entails. At this point, we want to make sure that you are comfortable that all of your wishes have been addressed including any issues left open from our previous meeting.
Step Three: Week 3 or Week 4 – The Review Meeting
Once your plan is designed, we will schedule a conference where you will review the documents for your estate plan. The review meeting will usually take place about three weeks after your plan is designed. At this meeting we will explain all of the documents and answer any questions that you may have so please allow between 2 and 3 hours for this meeting. At this point, we ensure that everything in your plan meets your desired goals and wishes for your family. The remaining payment of any legal fees is due at the end of the Review Meeting.
At the Review Meeting, we will schedule the Signing Ceremony to take place within one week to allow for any changes that may have arisen during the review.
Step Four: Week 4 or Week 5 – The Signing Meeting
At this meeting – lasting approximately 30 minutes – you will come in to sign your estate planning documents. It will be necessary for you to bring a valid, current photo identification card such as a driver’s license, state I.D. card, military ID. card, or passport as proof of your identity. You will then sign the documents, having them witnessed or notarized as necessary.
All of your legal documents will be scanned and stored on my computer system, and a copy of all signed documents will be provided on a CD for easy storage and distribution by you to anyone who needs a copy. At the end of the appointment, you will receive your original documents in a sturdy, attractive binder.