The Estate Planning Process

what's a succesful estate plan?

You may wonder what an estate plan entails. A proper plan ensures the income needed to maintain your lifestyle while responsibly providing for your heirs. Beyond dollars and cents, there are less quanitifiable concerns too, e.g. end of life wishes. Our process ensures these goals are met.

The elder law/special needs planning attorney has the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of their clients and families. The first step for the attorney is to ascertain all of the relevant facts and the client's objectives when developing a plan for the client. Misinformation or the lack of necessary information can significantly affect the validity of the plan, and therefore the end result. Here is a general outline of our process:

The quest for information should begin before the initial meeting with the client. The most efficient method of gathering information is through the use of a questionnaire. Our questionnaire is designed to provide the attorney with all the information necessary to assess the client's situation and implement an appropriate plan. Having the questionnaire completed prior to the consultation will allow the attorney to address the client's questions and concerns without the delay of gathering information during the consultation.

Articles of Organization/Incorporation:

These contain clauses preventing the PTC from providing services to the public. The PTC may act as Trustee for a related family of trusts.

First, decide what is important

Is asset protection only important during your lifetime, or should beneficiaries have their own trusts? Do you have minor children, a blended family or family business? Our questionnaire will assist you with these questions.

Second, speak to the attorney

Don't be afraid to ask questions. We discuss financial concerns and less quantifiable concerns, such as the role of an Advanced Healthcare Directive and how to choose a trustee.

Third, bring your plan to life

Here you put your plan into place. There are several steps, which often include: setting up an asset protection trust, private trust company, funding the trust, and executing supporting documents such as a Durable Power of Attorney.

Fourth, continually maintain

Once the initial documents are created and signed, you'll need to periodically review your estate plan to make sure that it still meets your needs. Changes in your personal circumstances, like the birth of a child, can necessitate plan adjustments. Changes in the law can require changes, too. We will assist with these when the time comes to ensure your legacy plan continues to fulfill your needs.

Your attorney will help fully explain topics such as the difference between a revocable and irrevocable trust, asset protection during your lifetime and how to avoid probate.