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The Heritage Law Center, LLC Blog

Estate Planning 101: Demystifying the Process

Throughout the estate planning process my goal is to make things as clear and convenient for you as possible. It is generally a quick and painless process, but the first step to greater peace and security is in your hands.

POSTED ON: December 22, 2010

Planning for your family’s future with a proper estate plan is one of the most important things you can do for them and for your own peace of mind.  But it is also a process that is seldom thought of in our hectic day-to-day lives and even more rarely spoken of.  It’s doubtful that many people got sat down by their parents and given an explanation of the ins and outs of estate planning.  Sure, it may well have been a more comfortable conversation than the birds and bees lecture, but it probably didn’t happen.

So, to provide you with a clearer picture of the process and to alleviate any apprehensions you might have about it, here is a run down of how my estate planning process typically works.

1.  Make an Appointment.  Call, email, fax, carrier pigeon, it doesn’t matter how but the first step is up to you.  Once I hear from you, I’ll get a sense of your needs and basic contact information.  I will then send you a brief Client Questionnaire that will help guide you through the process of gathering the information we will need to plan your estate.  Don’t worry if you don’t have all the information available or if you haven’t completely figured out how you want your plan to look, that’s why I’m here.  I’m always available to answer questions and assist you in your decision making.

2.  Let’s Meet.  The next step is for us to get together and discuss your circumstances and your goals so that we can come up with the best estate plan for you and your family.  This meeting is intended to be a low-pressure opportunity for you to ask questions and for me to learn more about you.  We’ll go over your family structure, the assets you own and who you want to inherit them, and options for health care decision-making and guardianships of minor children.  We will also discuss the costs associated with various planning options.  Our conversations are strictly confidential.  You can come to my office or I can travel to you, however you are most comfortable.  You may have ideas of how you want your estate handled or none at all; in any event I will explain all of your options so that you can make a fully informed decision.

3.  Consider and Decide.  After the initial meeting, I will send you a detailed letter describing the conversation that we had and our agreed upon preliminary plan for your estate, as well as any decisions that still need to be made.  I will also provide you with an itemized final fee statement for your review.  This serves as a good opportunity for you to make changes to the plan if you feel it necessary.  You can then send in the signed agreement, along with part of the fee.  As always, I am available to answer any questions that may pop up.

4.  Review Your Estate Plan.  After receiving your confirmation I will then draft the necessary documents for your estate plan.  When finished, I will send you a final draft so you can be sure everything is how you want it.  Changes can still be made at this point if necessary.

5.  The Signing Ceremony.  While this meeting is not the most glamorous of ‘ceremonies,’ it is a legal requirement and also serves as another good opportunity for you to ask any last minute questions.  You’ll review the estate planning documents one more time, either at my office or a comfortable place of your choosing, and I’ll explain them to you in detail.  Once everything has been reviewed, you will sign the documents, along with two witnesses, and I will have them notarized.  I will then give you your original estate planning documents and a set of copies and I will keep a set of copies on file for your convenience. The remainder of the fee is payable at this point.

Throughout the estate planning process my goal is to make things as clear and convenient for you as possible.  It is generally a quick and painless process, but the first step to greater peace and security is in your hands.  Call me today so we can get started.