Estate Planning Apprehensions

We have completed a lot of estate plans during the pandemic, here are the most frequently asked questions:

Are you going to ask me for specific values in my accounts?

No. For a basic estate plan, there is absolutely no need to get into specific values. I will ask you if your assets are worth in excess of $5 million dollars. If the answer to that question is yes, we are probably outside the realm of a basic estate plan. For the vast majority of people, the answer is no.

I have some family drama…

Who doesn’t? I have been practicing law for about ten years now. I have handled thousands of cases and a great number of estate/probate matters. I promise you, nothing you tell me will shock me, surprise me, or lead to any judgment on my part.

What if I don’t know the answer to a question?

That’s okay! During our telephone conversation, which takes about 40-60 minutes, I will send you an email with homework assignments. Generally speaking, most of these assignment are double checking beneficiary designations on bank accounts or insurance policies, or contemplating a secondary beneficiary or alternate executor.

How long does the process take?

In large part that depends on when we can link together on the telephone. For a client who has already prepared and thought about an estate plan, we usually get the process completed in 7-10 days. If our call is on Monday/Tuesday, I try to get draft documents out to you for review by Friday. We will then try to meet to execute everything the following week.

What do you ask about?

  • Demographic information and contact information about you;
  • Nature of your assets (accounts, property, etc.);
  • Goals of estate plan;
  • the ways property can transfer on death;
  • administration considerations, who should be in charge;
  • who do you want to make decisions for you, if you can’t do it for yourself?

How do I pay the legal fee?

We will not ask for payment until the estate plan is completed. We ask that you pay your bill within thirty days of completion.

What if I want to avoid probate?

That’s fine with us! We educate our clients on how title to property passes on death. If you want to avoid probate, we can devise an economical plan to do just that. There are limitations to this, but generally speaking, we can get it done in most circumstances.

What if I want to change my estate plan later?

No big deal. It is always good to periodically review your estate plan to see if your circumstances have changed. There may be a new grandchild, marriage or divorce. Whatever the scenario, we can adjust your plan. It is generally as easy as making an amendment or codicil to your last will and testament.

My family member needs an estate plan done, can I help with that?

Sort of. We have no problem with someone making an introduction with a client. However, it is important that when we interview the client about his/her estate plan, that meeting be the attorney and the client. If we meet with a client and a third party while devising an estate plan, it creates a problem and suggestion of undue influence.

What if I can’t come to you to sign?

That’s fine! It is not uncommon for us to come to the client.

What happens during the signing?

Signing is a quick process that involves us reviewing your plan with you in-person. We will ask to see a copy of a driver’s license or other identifying document to ensure your identity, then everything is signed, witnessed and notarized.

If we are signing at our offices, we ask that everyone please wear a mask. We have the signing in a conference room with clients on one side of the table and the witnesses on the other. We have hand sanitizer, new pens, and clean the room after each signing.

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