For most clients who need a will or other estate planning, you can expect to follow the six-step process laid out here.
“Okay, so I know I need an estate plan. What’s the process?”
1. Contact Me
Contact me to make an appointment or to ask questions. Even if you know me, I ethically can’t reach out to you and suggest you hire me. Once you get in touch with me, I’ll get the ball rolling.
2. Fill Out the Estate Planning Questionnaire
I’ll send you a form that asks for the information I’ll need throughout the process. It will help me determine what kind of planning you’ll probably need and will serve as a basis for our first meeting. It’s helpful if you can fill it out before the first meeting so I can be more efficient with your time.
3. First Meeting
At this meeting, we’ll discuss your goals and questions about estate planning. I’ll explain how wills, trusts, or other tools work and can fit your needs. We’ll walk through the questionnaire and review your decisions for beneficiaries, guardians, or trustees (and discuss how to decide, if you haven’t yet), and talk about other options such as how and when you’d like your children to inherit, and any other issues regarding your assets or your family.
A lot of people come to estate planning thinking that it’s all about the documents, but this first meeting is often really helps get to the bigger picture.
After our first meeting, there are often two things you’ll need to do: 1) fill out my Health Care Directive questionnaire with additional optional language about your wishes for health care and end-of-life care. If you are on a tighter timeline or have extra time before we meet, let me know and I will send this to you earlier in the process. 2) Make any final decisions about open questions left over from our meeting, such as if you and your spouse want to talk about guardians more, or find any missing information that I will need such as full names or addresses. If you have a more complete your questionnaire before we meet (Step #2) this step is easy!
5. Drafting & Reviewing Documents
Once I have all of your information, I’ll draft your documents, then send them to you to review.
It’s important to me that you have an opportunity to see your documents before you sign. I try to make this as painless as possible by giving you notes and clear questions, if any, for you to look at with your drafts. Call or email me if anything changes or if you have questions. After you’ve reviewed, we can schedule a meeting to sign.
6. Second Meeting and Signing
I’ll walk you through your documents so you understand what they do. Then we’ll bring in two witnesses and have you sign everything to make it official.
Depending on your preferences, schedule, and access to technology, I often divide this into a virtual meeting to review documents and then a shorter in-person meeting to sign. During times with higher case rates of covid-19, I prefer to meet virtually when possible unless you are unable to do so.
I will keep PDF copies of your documents, then package up your originals and mail them to you with information about your plan for future reference.