If you talk to one of our clients about our estate planning services, you will find out a couple of things.
First, our plans are extensive. We don’t just copy and paste your name into a pre-written package of 5 documents and call it a day.
Second, you will find out that we are not the cheapest estate planning lawyer in town. But as you can see from reading below, there is a reason that we charge a premium rate – our service greatly exceeds that of other firms.
What Sets Us Apart from other Estate Planning Firms?
Our plans probably contain more information than you may need. However, we believe that if you are leaving for a trip and you don’t know where you are going, what the weather will be like, or what you will do when you get there, then it makes sense to pack as much “stuff” as you can into your bag.
The same is true with an estate plan. You don’t know when you will need it, what you will need it for, or whether you will even need it at all! If we knew the answers to those questions, then you might not need an estate plan in the first place.
What Goes Into Our Estate Plans?
We offer two basic options for individuals and families that are in need of estate planning. A will-based plan and a trust-based plan.
Here is a list of the basic documents that go into both plans:
- A cover sheet and table of contents for the entire estate planning binder.
- A brief introduction to your estate plan. This gives information about where to store your plan, space to write down who has copies of your plan, and information about what to do if you or your spouse should die or become incapacitated.
- An overview and summary of your plan, including a full-color visual diagram of your plan for easy reference.
- If you have a trust, we include a condensed summary of your trust document.
- Your trust will be included in a trust-based plan.
- For trust-based plans, we will include a pour-over-will. For will-based plans, your last will and testament will be included.
- We include a document confirming the names of everyone who has anything to do with your plan. We call this the “confirmation of names and fiduciaries.”
- We give you a copy of all the personal and financial information that you have provided to our office, including your wealth inventory and client questionnaire.
- We include detailed funding instructions if you have a trust, explaining how to properly fund your trust.
- Your original, recorded Durable Power’s of Attorney are included. This is not the short form, state power of attorney, but rather a lengthy long form power of attorney that accounts for every contingency.
- A Privacy Affidavit and/or Certificate of Trust is included. This document will help you when transacting business on the part of your trust.
- We include an entire section devoted to the documents showing that your assets have been transferred into your trust. This may include a Quit Claim deed or letters from your bank.
- Health Care related documents are included. These include:
- Every plan includes a section for both you and your spouse to set out your wishes for your Funeral.
- There is a personal property memorandum for both you and your spouse. This is a document in which you can list out personal property that you want to go to certain people, and is much easier to change than updating a will or trust.
- With every trust-based plan, we also include a funding toolkit. This includes a CD containing forms and instructions to make sure your trust is properly funded and is more detailed than the instructions referenced above.
- For families with minor children, we include a KEAP Your Kids Safe plan (aka Kids Emergency Action Plan) that spells out the temporary guardians for your children and instructions should anything happen to your or your spouse.
- Finally, every client will receive a complimentary Legacy Interview at the conclusion of their case. This interview is burned to disc and kept either in a fire-proof safe in our office or with the client. A copy of the audio recording is also available to the client electronically through the cloud.
In addition to all of those documents, every trust-based estate plan comes with Trust ID cards, and every KEAP plan comes with Family Emergency ID Cards to let first responders know you have children and your wishes should something happen to you.
Last but not least, you will have no fewer than 3 meetings with a lawyer to discuss your situation, answer questions, and implement your plan. We are also available for unlimited telephone and email contact.
So as you can see, properly preparing an estate plan is not a small undertaking, and it takes a great deal of time.
Isn’t This Expensive?
As mentioned above, we do charge premium pricing compared to other estate planning firms as a result of all the services we provide that others don’t.
And compared to what could happen to your family and loved ones if you fail to plan, an estate plan is a bargain – even at our pricing. Probate alone can cost upwards of 3-5% of your gross estate. With a modestly priced house and a small savings account, this could easily be in the $10,000 to 15,000 range.
Alternatively, if you or your spouse becomes incapacitated without any estate planning documents in place, the cost to set up a guardianship alone could exceed the price of estate planning. And that doesn’t even count the time it would take to set that up…
Is There Another Option?
We have long recognized that the level of service we provide, as well as our pricing model, may exclude certain families from working with us.
But we also understand there are people and families who maybe don’t need all of the information and services that we are offering from our typical estate planning offerings, but still want a lawyer-drafted estate plan.
This is a program that would suit the needs of people who do not own a house and have few assets, but either have minor children at home, are young and single, or are young married couples.
It could also be an attractive program for people on a budget that just want to get some preliminary estate planning in place before they do a full-blown plan in a few years.
I’m Interested in Estate Planning, but Not All the Services You Listed Above
If you fall into the categories listed above and are interested in learning more about this new program, please complete this form and we will add you to our email list to let you know when we launch this program.
And of course, if you would like to sit down for a no-obligation, no-cost planning session to learn more about what estate planning can do for you and your family, you may call our office at (919) 883-4861. Alternatively, you may click this link and pick a time that is convenient for you to get on my schedule for a quick call.