THE PLANNING PROCESS
If you are like most people starting the Life & Estate Planning process, you probably have some questions about what is involved and what you need to do to get started. Some common questions include:
How Do I Get Started?
What Do I Need to Bring to the Initial Meeting?
What Type of Life & Estate Plan Do I Need?
How Much Will My Life & Estate Plan Cost?
How Long Does It Take to Complete the Planning Process?
What Do I Need to Do After My Life & Estate Plan is Created?
The below information is intended to answer these common questions and provide you with an overview of how the planning process generally works.
Your initial telephone call to our office is all it takes to start the ball rolling. Our initial conversation will give us an opportunity to: (1) introduce ourselves, (2) get a general sense of your planning goals, (3) confirm whether we can be of assistance, and, if so, (4) find a good time to sit down together and further discuss your planning needs and wishes.
After our initial conversation, we'll send you an Introductory Packet which will serve to further familiarize you with our firm, summarize the topics that we will cover during our initial meeting, and provide you with a checklist of helpful information/documents that you should gather for our meeting.
THE INITIAL PLANNING MEETING
For an attorney to proceed on a particular course of action without first consulting with the client and ascertaining all the facts of the matter would be akin to a doctor making a diagnosis and proceeding to surgery without first performing a thorough examination of the patient.
The initial planning meeting is absolutely vital for obtaining all the pertinent information required for a complete and accurate picture of your current situation, as well as identifying any potential problems or legal issues which may not be readily apparent to you; but, nonetheless, would need to be properly addressed in your Life & Estate Plan to ensure that your legal interests are fully protected.
Once we have this important background information, we'll be able to accurately address your questions and discuss suitable planning options that could help accomplish your goals, along with the pros and cons associated with each of the options. We'll also explain the applicable laws to you, provide our professional recommendations, and assist you in narrowing down the various planning options based on what is best for your particular situation - depending on your personal wishes and level of comfort.
At the conclusion of our meeting, we'll quote a fee to complete any projected legal work to be performed on your Life & Estate Plan and, thereafter, you may decide whether you would like to move forward with our Life & Estate Planning Services.
ENGAGEMENT OF SERVICES
If you decide to retain our services, we will provide you with a Retainer Agreement (also sometimes referred to as an "Engagement Letter") which will serve to confirm the specific legal services we will be performing for you, as well as the applicable legal fee for completing these services.
Once the signed Retainer Agreement is returned to our office along with the applicable retainer fee, we will be authorized to commence our representation and start working on your behalf.
THE CREATION & IMPLEMENTATION OF YOUR PLAN
During this stage, we will further explain the applicable laws, answer any additional questions that you may have, and assist you in further narrowing down the various planning options based on your particular wishes and comfort level. Once we have helped you with narrowing down the available options to a specific action plan, we will work on preparing your customized Life & Estate Plan. Depending on the extent of your particular planning needs, this stage typically takes approximately two to four weeks.
REVIEW & CONFIRMATION PROCESS
Once we have completed the drafts of your planning documents, we will send them to you, along with a customized letter that will explain and help you navigate through each of the documents. This will provide you with the opportunity to review everything at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home.
Following your review, we'll re-connect to answer any questions that you may have and address any changes or adjustments that you may wish to make to your plan. Once we confirm that the documents accurately express your planning wishes, we will finalize the documents and schedule an appointment for you to return to our office to formally sign your Life & Estate Planning documents.
On the day of the document signing, we will sit down with you and perform a final review of your documents to make sure that you fully understand and are completely comfortable with everything before signing. For this meeting, you will need to bring a photo I.D. (i.e., your driver's license, etc.) so that your signature upon the documents may be properly witnessed and notarized. Once the documents are completed, we will present you with a personalized binder containing all of your Life & Estate Planning documents, so that you may keep them organized and in a safe place.
COMPLETION OF PLAN
One of the many things that distinguish us from the other law firms (and online legal services) is that we will stay by your side to guide you all the way through to the finish line; so that you can rest assured knowing that your plan has been properly completed. For example, if your plan includes any Trust Agreements, we will assist you through the process of re-titling your assets and the funding of the Trust(s), etc. It's the final details and finishing steps such as this that are absolutely critical for ensuring that your plan will be fully effective.
Once your plan is in place, it is important to have it reviewed every few years. Over time, various life events take place (e.g., marriages, births, divorces, re-marriages, illnesses, deaths, etc.), and changing laws could negatively impact an existing plan. Therefore, it is crucial to have your plan regularly reviewed to make sure it stays up-to-date with the changing times and will continue to be effective in carrying out your planning goals.
The first step to getting started is simple - call us today at (914) 686-7272 to schedule a consultation and start the ball rolling, and we'll be happy to guide you the rest of the way to securing your and your loved ones' future.