Five Steps to a Complete Estate Plan
1. Schedule a Meeting
2. The First Meeting
3. Draft Documents
4. Execution of Original Documents
5. Follow Up Measures
1. Schedule a Meeting. Contact Nancy Charlton in our office to schedule an initial meeting (phone 434-817-4001). Please print out and complete our estate planning questionnaire and bring it with you to our first meeting. If you prefer, you may contact our office and we will mail one to you. Our offices are located at 304 Hickman Road on Pantops Mountain. You can find directions on the first page of the questionnaire or on our Contact Us page. If health or mobility is a factor, we may be able to meet with you at your home.
2. The First Meeting. The first meeting will last 45 to 90 minutes, depending on the complexity of your situation and our recommendations. We will (i) review the information you have provided on the questionnaire, (ii) discuss your planning objectives, (iii) consider the effect of estate taxes on your estate plan, if any, (iv) determine if trust planning is appropriate for children or other beneficiaries, (v) address the advantages of minimizing probate administration with funded revocable living trusts, and (vi) discuss the best persons or institutions to serve as executors under your wills, trustees under your living trusts, guardians of your minor children, and agents under your financial and medical powers of attorney. Using charts or diagrams for illustration as necessary, we will present our planning recommendation. The plan will include the suggested ownership of certain assets and beneficiary designations for life insurance, annuity policies and retirement accounts. After the plan has been discussed and your questions answered, we generally quote a fixed fee for the estate plan. If the proposed fee is agreeable, we will begin the drafting process.
3. Draft Documents. Our goal is to send draft documents to a client within 3-4 weeks of your decision to proceed, but we are able to provide more timely service as circumstances dictate. The drafts will be mailed (or emailed) to you with a summary explaining what the documents will achieve once they are in place. When you are ready to do so, we shall meet for the second time to discuss the documents together. In many instances, our clients are ready to sign the documents at that second meeting, after questions have been answered or changes have been made.
4. Execution of Original Documents. After the draft documents have been reviewed and appropriate changes made, the documents will be ready to be signed, witnessed, and notarized. It is our strong preference that our clients sign their documents at our office to ensure that all legal formalities are observed. We will prepare and mail to you a binder containing your estate planning documents. We will enclose our invoice with the binder.
5. Follow Up Measures. For many of our clients, a great deal of the wealth they will pass on to their loved ones consists of the proceeds of life insurance policies, anuities, and retirement plan accounts. These assets typically pass by beneficiary designations and are not necessarily governed by the terms of a client’s will. In some client situations, it may be desirable to re-title real estate or investment accounts after the execution of their estate planning documents. Therefore, we include a comprehensive letter to our clients containing our recommendations as to the correct beneficiary designations and the titling or real estate and financial accounts. We are available to assist you with any follow-up measures we recommend.