To plan right requires a process allowing abundant thought and time.
To learn about the process of getting started, before the initial meeting, click here.
The estate planning process, from the initial meeting to the signing of your plan (Exploration Phase, Design Phase, and Implementation Phase), usually takes about 2-3 months to properly implement a successful estate plan. Timing depends on your availability and decision-making. With our flat fee package called Red Box Services, you can take your time to make thoughtful decisions. [COVID UPDATE: Our process is taking approx. 4 months minimum for new non-urgent estate plans.]
And when the time comes, our firm will be here to assist your loved ones with administering your trust and estate. We are committed to developing and maintaining a long-lasting relationship with you and your family. We look forward to getting started.
FOUR PHASES OF ESTATE PLANNING
OUR ESTATE PLANNING PROCESS
We get to know you
and show you exactly how we can help you achieve true peace of mind.
You get to know us, discover what estate planning means for you, and see if we are a good fit. And if we are, you sign
an engagement agreement
and pay half of the
lower-end of the flat fee range quoted.
(2 hour mtg)
We explain all your options. We listen to your wishes
and concerns, and come to understand your perspective. We counsel you with
empathy and wisdom
to make practical decisions. We prepare our
Estate Plan Design Summary
for your review.
You make thoughtful
well-informed decisions in
a supportive environment and finalize your
EP Design Summary.
Take your time to be certain with our flat fee package.
(2 hour mtg, follow-up emails, and continued design meetings as needed, 30 min EP Design Summary review mtg)
We expertly draft a comprehensive tailor-made estate plan that expresses your true intentions.
We also prepare documents to transfer your home
and some of your other assets to the trust. We
help you coordinate your designated beneficiaries
for retirement accounts
and life insurance.
You meet with your attorney to review and sign
your estate plan. You fund your trust for success.
You achieve satisfaction
and peace of mind.
(2-3 hour mtg)
We provide advice and support (free the first year; hourly fee basis when you request it thereafter).
We help you ensure
your plan stays effective
as your life and the law changes.
You commit to making sure your plan succeeds.
You review your
EP Design Summary
when needed (and at least every 5 years) and update your plan every 10 years or when your wishes change.
You achieve lasting
peace of mind.
What happens at the initial meeting?
The initial meeting takes about 2 full hours. We use this time to get to know each other and see if we are a good fit to work together. Although we have reviewed your Questionnaire in preparation for our meeting, we go over your responses together and learn about you, your family and the nature of your assets. This is also the time we educate you on the basics of estate planning and how a living trust affects your personal situation. [COVID UPDATE: We now meet via Zoom or telephone.]
We will also explain our services and quote you a flat fee range which covers the potential range of services you may want us to provide. We will ask you whether you would like to proceed. If you decide to move forward with us, we will present the engagement letter for you to sign. Payment by check or future arrangements will be made for the initial payment (usually half of the lower end of the flat fee range). Before we part, we will schedule our next meeting. If you do not wish to go forward, there is no charge for our time and you have gained invaluable knowledge about estate planning.
What should I expect after the initial meeting?
After the initial meeting, we will meet to begin the design or decision-making phase. This design meeting takes 2-3 hours. We may also meet again in person to continue designing your customized estate plan, or we may complete the design through telephone conferences and email exchanges. We are a big fan of the “homework” list, so we will email you a list of any outstanding decisions and homework at each step of the way!
After you have made all your decisions, we will send you our exclusive, user-friendly Estate Plan Design Summary containing all of the questions we have asked, your responses, and the names of the important persons involved in your estate plan. We will then schedule a Design Summary review telephone call to discuss your summary and any changes you wish to make, and answer any questions. The length of time of the design phase varies since you can take as much time as you need to make thoughtful decisions under our Red Box Services flat fee package.
After your Design Summary is finalized, we will schedule a signing meeting and draft your customized estate plan. Our thorough drafting process involves the paralegal and both attorneys for quality control, and thus takes about 4 weeks.
What happens at the signing meeting?
At the signing meeting, you will be presented with your full estate plan in a beautifully organized binder. We do not send a full draft of your plan (which consists of about 15-22 documents) in advance. [COVID UPDATE: We now send your documents to your home in advance and walk you through the signing via Zoom or telephone.] We review and explain each document to you in as much detail as you wish at our meeting, which we find to be the most effective method for you to understand what you have implemented and what needs to be done for your plan to be successful. Once you are satisfied, you will execute your estate planning documents. We will provide the notary and witnesses required. The balance of the flat fee due is paid at this time. [COVID UPDATE: We now hold an outdoor social-distancing notary/witness event periodically with full safety precautions.]
During this meeting, we will also begin the process of funding your trust. “Funding” is the vital process of completing, submitting, and finalizing the transfer paperwork or beneficiary designations for all your financial accounts and assets. Once your trust is funded, it stays funded until your assets change (or you refinance real property). For example, at the signing meeting you may be signing deeds to transfer your real property into your new living trust.
The signing meeting takes about 2 hours. We will then record deeds and scan your original documents. We will deliver your complete Red Box Services estate plan to you gift-wrapped in a red box. Your “gift” will contain your red binder of original documents, electronic copies, and peace of mind.
After my documents are signed, are we finished?
No, after the signing meeting you will be busy continuing the most important process of funding. With your easy access to us under the flat fee, we are available to answer your questions (as well as your financial advisor or banker's questions) as you fund your trust and update your beneficiary designations. For clients who already have an existing "funded" trust, we help uncover any gaps and potential pitfalls in your funding.
I have funded my trust, now what?
We recommend that you review your Estate Plan Design Summary when needed (and at least every 5 years). The Design Summary is intended to be a tool for you to review the important details of your plan, and to refresh our recollection, without having to pay for us to reread all your customized estate planning documents. If your wishes change, or you have a change in your life’s circumstances, we can assist with updating your plan on an hourly fee basis as you request.
Typically, everyone needs a more comprehensive update of their estate plan, including a “restatement” of their trust, every 10 years. This is due to the numerous changes in the law and the changes in the best practices of estate planning attorneys that occur over a decade. This complete update is usually done on a flat fee basis as clients prefer the comfort of unlimited attorney access again.
Meanwhile, we encourage you to let us know about any major events and changes in your personal life and financial situation so we can quickly assess if you require any further action to ensure a successful plan. Just send us a quick email to keep in touch!