What Should You Bring to Your Initial Estate Planning Session and What to Expect?
Your initial estate planning session is our opportunity to get to know your goals and to inform you about estate planning from beginning to end. We want to understand your long-term goals and talk about how you can achieve them. I want you to feel empowered by your new knowledge and to understand that we do care about achieving your goals. Typically, the initial meeting lasts about one hour.
Estate planning clients are entitled to privacy in their considerations and may choose to attend the initial session alone or with a spouse, if there is to be a joint estate plan. However, ultimately I need to have an in-person discussion with all clients and cannot plan documents for clients that I have not seen.
Most initial consultations begin with introductions if we do not know the client. I'll introduce myself, discuss my services, and aim to get some sense of what the client is trying to achieve. This is part of the initial discussion and I'll discuss the planning and the cost of my work.
As stated above, if the client retains my service, the initial meeting lasts approximately 60 minutes. If they do not retain my services, then usually the initial meeting will last about a half hour. However, if I am retained to do the work, then I will charge for the entire meeting if my charges are on an hourly fee. If I am not retained, there is no charge because there is no service rendered, other than getting acquainted with me and learning some general information on estate planning.
Also, if the client prefers to retain me on a set fee for specifically described services, rather than an hourly fee, I do have fees established that are not based on an hourly charge. This gives the client certainty as to costs for a particular scope of work, and I feel it provides a better relationship with the client when they are not worried about the cost of asking questions or exploring concerns.
The initial planning meeting is my opportunity to get a basic understanding of your goals, to educate you on estate planning, and to discuss your questions or concerns. As stated, I'll discuss possible fees and costs associated with creating your estate plan, and reach an agreement with you on this before you have any expense for the meeting.
It is important to think about estate planning as a process and not a single event. Life changes planning goals for most people. Any revisions or amendments to your estate plan may incur additional fees, depending upon the terms of our engagement, and agreed upon fees.
When you decide to proceed with your estate planning, I will have you sign an engagement agreement if you are a new client. In the case of a joint estate plan, I may also ask that both parties sign a conflict of interest disclosure and waiver.
It is helpful to bring the following information to an initial Estate Planning Session:
• Copies of your current estate planning documents;• A generally accurate listing of your assets, by type and value, and in some cases by location and title;• Names, addresses, and birthdates of potential beneficiaries, next of kin, and anyone who is to be named as trustee, executor, or agent.
At the end of the consultation, you will be scheduled for a longer planning session where the details of the estate will be discussed after drafts are reviewed. This will likely be followed by a further meeting where the planning documents will be reviewed and signed.
Depending upon your agreement for the scope of our services, there may be follow up anniversary meetings scheduled to check from time to time on the completion of planning elements you are responsible for or regarding changes in your planning.