THE ESTATE PLANNING PROCESS
The Finley Law Firm LLC is dedicated to providing estate planning services to individuals, families and their businesses in the St. Louis Metropolitan area. Our goal is to develop and deliver comprehensive estate plans tailored to individual client needs and circumstances. In order to ensure the quality and effectiveness of our planning arrangements, we use the following process:
Step 1: Complimentary Initial Meeting
The first step in developing an estate plan that achieves your goals and that is tailored to your life is to get to know you and what is important to you; to identify your vision for the future, to help you understand the planning issues that are relevant to them and to educate them about the steps they can take to address those issues and make that vision a reality. During this initial meeting we will:
a. Review the clients’
b. Review your financial landscape and take an inventory of your assets and liabilities;
b. Explore their goals in connection with protecting their family and assets, providing for those close to them and establishing their legacy (financial or other) for the future;
c. Discuss the current and potential future estate planning risks that affect the clients;
d. Identify the planning options available to the clients and assess the pros and cons of each of those options; and
e. Make formal recommendations regarding the planning steps we believe the clients should take in order to address their risks and achieve their goals.
f. In most cases, we will provide a fixed fee quote for any recommended planning projects. However in some cases, our planning recommendations will require an hourly billing arrangement.
Step 2: Engagement and Preparation of Draft Documents
If you elect (either during or following the initial appointment) to move forward with your estate planning, we will send you an engagement letter that summarizing the scope of the estate planning you have elected and the fees we have discussed for that project. We ask that you sign the engagement letter and return it to us with a deposit payment (typically half of the total fee). Once the signed engagement letter and deposit check have been received, we will begin drafting your documents that will serve as the infrastructure of your estate plan Once the drafts have been completed, we mail the documents to you for review.
Step 3: Review Draft Documents with Clients
In order to ensure that the documents have been constructed in accordance with the clients’ goals and that you understand and are comfortable with the general concepts built into your estate plan, we will meet (either on the phone or in person) to review the planning in detail. During this meeting, we will each document and discuss how the document works and is used to achieve your estate planning objectives. We will also answer any questions your have and identify any necessary changes or revisions. This process is then repeated for any revised drafts until you are satisfied with all the terms and provisions of your documents.
Step 4: Signing Appointment
Once the draft documents have been finalized, we will schedule a signing appointment, during which we do a final review of your documents and then you will execute the documents before witnesses and a notary public. This appointment usually takes about an hour.
It is usually most convenient to sign the documents in our office, however, if necessary or more convenient, arrangements can be made to execute the documents elsewhere, such as in a hospital or nursing home.
Step 5: Funding Process
During the signing appointment (or if more appropriate, following such appointment), we will discuss with the clients (and their advisors, if appropriate and with the clients’ consent) the steps necessary to connect their assets to their planning arrangements (through changes in beneficiary designations, retitling of assets, etc.). Although we generally do not carry out the funding steps directly (unless the clients engage us to do so), we will discuss the steps the clients should take with each particular asset and will assist them with and answer any questions they may have regarding the funding process.
Once the documents have been finalized and the assets have been properly aligned with them, the project has been completed and no further action is generally needed unless and until the clients’ financial and/or family situation or the legal landscape surrounding the planning changes. Our estate planning process is geared toward providing comprehensive and customized planning services. We look forward to working with you to implement planning arrangements which will most effectively achieve your goals.