Q: Can you explain how to get started? What's the basic process?
First, you should give us a call and schedule a good time for you to come in and meet with us. At that meeting, we'll talk with you about a variety of topics including your family situation, your finances, and your goals for the future. Once we have this information, we'll offer our thoughts about how you can best go about creating an estate plan that meets your goals.
After our meeting, we will begin drafting the necessary documents. Once we're done, you will be sent a copy for review. At this point you can ask specific questions about the documents and request any changes you think are necessary. Once you are happy with the way your estate plan has been drafted, you will come back in and execute the documents.
Q: I'm busy. How long is my appointment going to take?
Crafting an estate plan is an important and complex process; we'll be asking you to think about your finanaces, your family and friends, your children, your wishes regarding disability and end of life care, tax issues and much more. Not to metion that we're also estate planning nerds and love to talk about this stuff.
All of which is to say that there'll be a lot to discuss to make sure your estate plan is done right. Because of the sheer number of things we'll need to talk with you about, you should plan on budgeting at least two hours for your appointment. It's not as bad as it sounds - we promise (we have a really comfortable couch)!
Q: What should I bring to my appointment?
Things that can really help us include:
Any prior wills, trusts, powers of attorney, or living wills you or your spouse have executed in the past.
Information on any life insurance and retirement plans you may have, particularly current beneficairy designations.
If either you or your spouse have previously been divorced, a copy of the divorce or separation decree. If it seems strange that an estate planning attorney needs to see a divorce decree, remember that divorce decrees sometimes contain orders about beneficiary designations. We need to make sure we aren't drafting an estate plan that violates a court order!
A list of people you trust to do certain tasks like making healthcare decisions for you, managing you finances, or taking care of your kids. This information is needed to help plan for powers of attorney and guardianships.
Q: OK, we've met. How long until you're done?
The exact amount of time to complete an estate plan will depend on its complexity. Generally speaking however, it takes us about 2 to 4 weeks to complete the drafting process. You will then be sent copies for your review and an appointment will be scheduled to execute the documents.