We have developed a process which most of our estate planning follows; we believe through this process our clients have time to work through all of the required information and decision-making necessary to create the best possible plan for their family.
Our typical process involves a series of at least four (4) meetings, including the initial consultation. These meetings are necessary so that we can develop a comprehensive individualized plan for each client.
Our initial consultation is an “educational” meeting that lasts between 1 and 2 hours. We will educate you on the basics of estate planning and introduce you to the process and some of the more important options you will be faced with while developing your estate plan.
After the first meeting, if you decide to hire us to work with you to develop your own individualized plan, we typically will have at least three more meetings. The second meeting is a “Design” meeting wherein we work with you to develop the design of your plan (who, what, where, when, why).
A week or two after the “Design” meeting we usually have a “Draft Review” meeting where we have you come back (or we could do yours by phone or skype) and review “Draft” copies of the plan we have put together. This is the time where many changes are usually made because no matter how well you express your intentions to us, when our clients see everything in writing there are usually some changes.
Because most people do not get a “second chance” to do these documents over (because most people either become disabled, incompetent or die) we feel it is important to take extra time and care and make sure that each individual’s wishes are fully explored and that the documents are properly prepared and executed. We take great care to make sure we uncover every possible foreseeable circumstance.
Depending on the number and extent of changes during the third meeting we will then schedule the actual “Signing” or “Execution” meeting which involves using witnesses and a notary to officially execute all of the necessary documents. This meeting takes about two hours as well and is critically important. We prefer to do these meetings in our office.
This entire process usually takes at LEAST two months for most clients, although we have done it much quicker when necessary. However, this is only half (½) of the process. The most important part (and the part most people neglect entirely) is the “funding” of your trust and plan. Funding involves changing the title to the home, accounts, beneficiary designations and other items as necessary. If you do not plan on properly “funding” your estate plan then we recommend that you do not even create a Living Trust plan because it will not work.
Funding can be done either by our firm or by you, the client. With the exception of your home, our fee for creating your Personalized Estate Plan does not include the cost of funding. Unfortunately, because we must rely on outside companies and others to process paperwork for the “funding” portion the duration is always an unknown. It is not unusual, however, for the entire funding process to take several months.