As estate planning attorneys, we are privileged to work with our clients at all different stages of their lives, at points where thoughtful planning and effective execution can provide peace of mind and significant benefits down the road.
How We Help Our Clients
Planning for death and incapacity can be challenging, but effective estate planning can help avoid many problems and set up loved ones for success. In our work, we help our clients:
- Minimize family conflict,
- Select guardians for minor children,
- Protect assets from potential creditors,
- Protect assets until beneficiaries have mastered financial and life skills to manage their inheritance,
- Reduce tax liability (including estate, capital gains, and income tax)
- Avoid unnecessary costs and delays in settling their estates,
- Plan for incapacity, including selecting individuals to make medical and financial decisions when our clients are unable to,
- Provide for family members with special needs and disabilities, and
- Leave a meaningful legacy – to family, friends and charities.
What’s the Process?
We lead our clients through the following steps to complete their estate planning. (This process is customized where appropriate.)
1. Discovery and plan design meetings
We meet (typically once or twice) to discuss your situation, goals, various planning opportunities and options, and challenges. Specifically, we will spend time discussing:
- your family and heirs
- the vision you have for their lives, challenges you foresee, and how you wish to support them with their life needs and goals
- the details of your finances, real estate, and any business interests
- details and wishes for any special possessions
- charitable interests and goals
- tax exposure and planning opportunities
During this time we will listen and often provide options you may not have considered to help accomplish your wishes. From these conversations, we will work together to design an estate plan that addresses your goals.
2. We draft your documents
This typically takes 2-3 weeks. You will receive a binder with your draft documents, or a PDF if you prefer an electronic version. We will also provide you with a diagram of your plan, a summary of your trust document (if applicable), and summary of your financial assets and liabilities and how they fit into your estate plan.
3. Document review meeting
We will meet to discuss your questions, make necessary changes, and finalize your documents.
4. Document signing meeting
We will provide the needed witnesses and notary to properly execute your documents.
5. Plan funding meeting
After your signing, you will meet with one of our paralegals to discuss your Final Action List. This is a list of actions to be completed by you to ensure your plan is properly funded and accomplishes the goals intended. This funding plan includes updating the ownership and beneficiary designations of your financial accounts, as well as updating beneficiary designations for any insurance policies.
In most cases we charge a flat fee for our estate planning work. We have several packages that accomplish various goals, with pros and cons to reach. Our flat fees range widely depending on the work being done, typically between $2,000 (low end) and $8,000 (high end). We will provide you with several strategy options with the exact fee for each, once we have had the opportunity to understand your planning goals and the work required. Our flat fee includes 4-5 meetings with our estate planning staff as described above.
We love this work, supporting our clients as they make some of the most important decisions in life. We embrace the “people issues” as much as the tax and asset protection ones, recognizing that most of our lives are messy in ways, with strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges! We find it extremely rewarding to partner with our clients in this work, ultimately coming up with a plan that brings peace of mind.
Because we have worked with so many clients over the years, we are able to bring a wealth of knowledge, experience and creativity to each of our clients’ planning challenges. While we can’t say “we’ve seen it all”, we have certainly seen much. We are eager to share the things that have helped others, as well as the traps to avoid.
Finally, we have built a team of professionals that love what they do and really enjoy working together. When you come on a client at Pathway Law, you are not only getting experienced estate planning counsel, but also an entire team of professionals to help you through the planning process. We welcome the opportunity to learn more about your situation and to see if we might be of help.