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.
We understand that life is unpredictable and welcome the opportunity to assist individuals and families who find themselves in overwhelming circumstances due to the declining health or disability of a loved one. While working with our clients, we develop genuine connections and enjoy resolving the human issues of estate planning as much as the tax ones.
How We Help Our Clients
Planning for death and incapacity can be challenging, but effective estate planning can help avoid many problems, as well as set loved one’s up for future 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?
Many people are surprised to learn that the estate planning process is fairly painless. We divide it into five steps:
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, any challenges you foresee, and ways you might provide for them
- 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
From these conversations we will 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, engaging with our clients as they make some of the most meaningful and important decisions in life. Because this work involves planning that impacts our clients’ closest relationships and loved ones, we realize things can be messy. Know that we embrace the “people issues” as much as the tax and asset protection ones! We believe this approach contributes to the ultimate goal of making a meaningful difference in the lives of loved ones, however best that may look like.
Because we have worked with so many clients over the past eighteen 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 an experienced estate planning attorney, but also an entire team of professionals to help you through the planning process. We look forward to the opportunity to get to know you and to help you through the planning process.
We’d love to hear from you. Contact Susan Traganos to sign up for an initial consultation.