Our Process


Once you have arranged for your Initial Conference, we will provide you with our initial client forms to be completed prior to our first meeting. An online version is available under the Client Forms menu to the left.  We ask that you work to complete these forms before your Initial Conference. If you need to reschedule your appointment, please contact us immediately so that we may rearrange our schedule.
 
There is no need to go on a "treasure hunt" for financial or legal documents at this point. Sometimes we find that clients procrastinate in getting their planning done because they cannot locate, or do not have time to locate, all of these documents. Truthfully, these documents will not be needed until later in the process. Instead, spend the time before your appointment contemplating the three P's of Estate Planning.


Understanding the three P's of Estate Planning

People

Who are the Important People in your life? Beginning with yourself, this could include your spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, other relatives and friends. Beyond these, however, "Important People" could also include charities, special causes, colleges or universities, and churches to which you are committed. For some, "Important People" could even include pets. Spend some time thinking about the impact others have had on your life. Make a list and jot notes if you like. This is where the planning process truly begins.

Property 

Property consists of your assets in general. Make a list of the assets you own or control. At this point, you do not need to identify exact dollar values. Rather, think through your assets in terms of their nature. Are your assets in cash, retirement accounts, life insurance, and real estate? Do you own assets in your name only, in joint tenancy with someone else, through a trust agreement, or some other arrangement? Be sure to include often overlooked assets like business interests and any inheritance you expect to receive.

Plans

After identifying the “Important People” in your life and your “Property”, the next step is to consider the plans you would make for those people and that property in the event of your own incapacity or death.

  • Who would you name to make decisions for you if you could no longer do so yourself?
  • Would the same person handle your finances and your personal and health care decisions?
  • Who would care for your minor children?
  • How would you distribute your assets to your beneficiaries?
  • Would you prefer to spare your beneficiaries the costs and hassles of the probate process?
  • Would you like to minimize the impact of estate taxes, or maximize the impact of a charitable gift?
  • Is there someone in your family with special needs who you would like to provide for?
  • Is there someone who perhaps should not receive a great deal of money without some protections?


Our Estate Planning process includes up to 8 different stages.
 
Initial Conference
 
We begin with a general discussion of estate planning to explain the different options, including how wills and trusts are used.
 
Design Conference

During the design conference, we decide on a plan that is personalized to fit your family and your property.  This meeting may be combined with the initial conference.

Signing Conference
 
At this meeting, we will review and explain each part of the estate plan and sign all of the documents.

Trust Funding

All documents, including beneficiary designations, necessary to align your property with your estate plan are explained and signed.  This usually takes place during the signing conference.

Funding Follow-Up Meeting

During the funding follow-up meeting, we will review the status of all of the documents we prepared and mailed to to fund your trust, including beneficiary designations, changes of ownership, and deeds.

Family Meeting

We offer to meet with you and your Agents to give them an understanding of how your estate plan is implemented in the event of your incapacity or death.  This meeting is optional.

Estate Plan Maintenance

Changes in your family’s circumstances or the law are inevitable.  We encourage you to periodically review your estate plan and contact us to make necessary changes.

Estate & Trust Administration

We will assist your family in the administration of your trust in the event of your incapacity or death.