Step 1 – Consultation and Sign-up
This step is all about:
- Gathering information,
- Understanding your goals; and
- Answering your questions.
It starts with your call. During our first call with you, we will discuss a few basic items, set an appointment, and provide you with an email link to our Client Worksheet. The Client Worksheet provides details about your personal and family information, your goals and concerns, and your finances.
We then discuss this information at our first meeting, addressing any questions about your estate, or concerns that you would like to address. We also discuss the people you would like to appoint to important roles in your estate. This can include guardians for children, a personal representative, power of attorney, health care agent, and trustee. We do this together so that it will be clear the role these people will be playing in your estate.
After learning about your goals, family, and financial situation, we propose a structure for your estate. There are often more than one way to do things, and we will be sure to talk through options and find a plan that suits you the best.
At the end of this step we know your objectives, and have a plan in mind to achieve them.
Step 2 – Implementing the Plan
Once a proposed estate plan has been agreed on, it is time to begin putting together the pieces. Your plan will include documents, but it is more than that. Your plan is about achieving your objectives:
- Providing for your children;
- Getting your affairs in order;
- Avoiding probate;
- Planning for passing the family business; or
- Reducing or eliminating estate taxes and income taxes.
Everyone’s goals are different, and we will design your plan to reflect your own personal goals.
In between the initial meeting and the signing, we may have some additional questions, or request copies of documents that are important to your estate plan. We use this information, together with the information from your initial meeting, to draft documents and prepare your estate plan. Other things that may be necessary include preparing to change beneficiary designations, and re-titling assets.
Step 3 – Signing and Asset Transfers
For many estates, the second meeting will be used for review and signing of the estate planning documents. However, in some cases, one or more additional meetings may be necessary in order to finalize the details of a complex plan.
For those estate plans that are ready to sign, the second meeting is about ensuring that the documents meet your objectives. We review each document to make sure that it accurately reflects the details that we have discussed at the first meeting and during the drafting process. We also answer your questions, so that you leave confident in your understanding of the plan.
Once we have reviewed the documents, it is time to sign. Signing estate documents is a formal and detailed process. We meet all of the signing requirements, including having witnesses on hand for the signing of your will.
When all of the estate planning documents are signed, we will work through any remaining steps that are necessary to ensure you have a comprehensive plan. If you have a trust, this means working on funding. Funding is the process of setting beneficiary designations and retitling assets.
Funding is a critical part of the estate planning process, often overlooked by estate planners and their clients. Because lack of follow through can lead to the failure of your estate plan, we work through this phase with our clients to ensure it is completed.