Our Estate Planning Process
The Heritage Life Plan is our estate planning process plus our maintenance program, which are tailored to meet our clients’ needs. We don’t just create cookie-cutter documents for you and say goodbye. We meet with you and listen to you while you tell us about your specific situation and needs. We create your plan to meet your objectives. Then we help you maintain your plan for years to come so it will accomplish what you want it to when you need it.
Step 1: Free, Initial Consultation (in-person, by video, or by phone; one hour)
- We ask you to complete an online Estate Planning Worksheet and return it to us before your consultation. This gives us an idea of your financial and family situation, and what your estate planning concerns and goals are.
- You can bring a family member to the consultation. If you’re married, bring your spouse as the estate plan you’ll be creating will affect both of you. If you want to keep your trusted advisors (e.g., financial adviser, accountant) in the loop during this process, let us know.
- You’ll meet with Matthew Karr, Esq., to discuss your concerns, estate planning goals, the distribution plan for your estate (beneficiaries), and who you want to appoint to certain positions (i.e., personal representative, trustee, successor trustee, financial agent, and medical proxy). After learning more about your unique situation, Matt will explain estate planning options that will meet your needs and wishes, and he’ll answer any questions you have.
- Matt will provide a flat fee for creating the documents you choose. With a flat fee structure, there are no surprises or hidden fees, and you don’t have to worry how much asking us a question will cost you.
Step 2: Signing Engagement Letter & Payment
- To proceed with your estate plan, we’ll provide you with an engagement letter that outlines the work to be done. We’ll ask you to sign it and we’ll request an initial retainer payment of 50% of the total fee, which can be paid by credit card or check.
Step 3: Plan Design and Review
- After you sign the engagement letter, we’ll design your plan based on your objectives as identified in our discussion.
- After confirming necessary details with you, we’ll send you a draft copy of your documents, and then review them with you either via Zoom or in person to make sure they meet your expectations. We’ll then adjust the plan according to your feedback.
Step 4: Plan Execution
- At an in-person signing meeting we’ll answer any last-minute questions before having your plan signed, witnessed, and notarized. We’ll record your deeds with the registry, scan your documents into our backup system, and put together your finished portfolio.
- The remaining 50% of the flat fee will be due on this day (by either credit card or check) as well as any Registry of Deeds recording fees (for putting real estate into a trust).
- We’ll review any additional steps you need to take to make your estate plan effective, such as changing beneficiary designations on insurance or retirement benefits or purchasing life insurance.
All trust clients will be automatically enrolled in our maintenance program, which is free for the first year.
Step 5: Delivery and Funding Meeting
- All final, signed estate planning documents are delivered in a client portfolio along with the client’s Asset Summary Worksheet and a thumb drive containing electronic copies.
- We create your trust, but it doesn’t have any value until assets are transferred into it. This process is called “funding the trust.” Matt retitles your real estate, so it becomes part of your trust, but there’s still more to do.
- The funding process will be explained, including retitling assets or changing the beneficiary of the asset to the trust (e.g., beneficiary designations on insurance or retirement benefits).
- At your option, you’ll meet with our partner financial team who can assist you in continuing to fund your trust with assets like investments and bank accounts.
Step 6: Plan Maintenance and Client Care
We believe in building lifelong relationships with every client, so as your life changes (e.g., marriage, divorce, birth, death) and estate laws change, we’ll be there to help ensure that your estate plan meets your needs. We recommend that you contact us every few years for a free review of your estate plan.
For trust clients in our maintenance program, we’ll work with you to provide the many benefits the plan has to offer.
Thank you for involving us in this important part of your lives. We look forward to working with you to create an estate plan that meets your goals and protects you, your family, and your assets.