Our Peace of Mind Planning Process
Step 1 — Preparing For The Initial Meeting
When you call our office and schedule an initial consultation, we will send you our Client Worksheet for you to fill out before we meet. This worksheet is designed to provide us with important information about your family, your assets, and your desired fiduciaries. It helps us make our initial meeting as productive as possible.
If you are unable to send us the completed worksheet before our initial meeting, it’s okay to complete it and bring it with you to the meeting. At this stage in the process, we do not expect you to search high and low for every document and all of your financial information. Instead, please focus on the amount of your assets, their type, and their ownership (husband, wife, or joint). If you have life insurance, please specify whether it is a term or permanent policy and provide us with the name of the owner, the insured, and the beneficiaries.
Step 2 — The Initial Meeting
During our initial meeting we will answer all of your questions about our firm and our overall planning process. We will also devote a considerable amount of time to learning about you and your family. What are your most pressing concerns, your goals, your values, your hopes for the future? Was there a specific event or a particular situation that prompted you to meet with us? The more we know about you and your family, the better we can help you achieve your goals, realize your dreams, and leave an enduring legacy. We will also take the time to educate you about estate planning basics so that you will understand your options as well as our recommendations. If you have done some estate planning in the past, we will want to review your existing documents so that we can make additional recommendations to achieve your planning objectives.
Step 3 — The Design Meeting
Before our second meeting we will send you what is called an engagement letter. It will describe the legal documents required for your plan, together with our anticipated fee. We request that you sign and return this document to us, along with one half of our fee, before our second meeting. We have found that clients prefer a flat fee rather than hourly billing, so we take this approach whenever possible.
During our second meeting we will discuss in detail the strategy behind your plan and provide you with a summary of your plan. The purpose of the plan summary is to make it as easy as possible for you to understand the objectives of your plan. We want to make sure that you are completely comfortable with the approach we have taken and the ability of the plan to address your wishes, including any matters left undecided in our previous meeting. If your plan includes a trust (or trusts), we will also explain the concept of “funding” and give you instructions about what that entails.
Depending on your plan’s complexity and your personal goals, we may hold additional meetings or conference calls to fine-tune your plan if necessary.
Step 4 — The Signing Ceremony
When your plan is completed, we will schedule a meeting during which you will sign your plan’s legal documents. This “signing ceremony” typically takes place approximately three weeks after your plan has been designed. During this meeting we will explain all of your legal documents and answer any questions you might have.
Step 5 — Executing The Plan
We believe that plan execution is an area where many estate planning attorneys fall short. Even an innovative, well-drafted plan will prove ineffective if it is improperly funded and administered. This is why we offer to assist you with funding during the signing meeting. If you would rather fund your plan on your own, we will make sure to clearly explain what funding entails and why it is essential.
Contact an Established D.C. Estate Planning Attorney
Attorney Clifford M. Cohen has practiced law for more than 35 years and is a member of the Trusts and Estates Section of the Montgomery County and D.C. Bar Associations. For assistance with any aspect of estate planning, we invite you to contact our offices for a complimentary consultation. We will do everything in our power to help you achieve all of your planning goals.