Do you ever get frustrated when an item is on your “To Do List” month after month? Does it seem like there is never enough time to get certain things done in your life? If this describes your approach to estate planning, then keep reading.
Clients often make comments early in the estate planning process like, “You don’t realize how long we’ve been wanting to get this done,” or — sorry guys — “I’ve been pushing him to get this done for the last 5+ years.” It’s as if a big burden has been lifted from them once they get started. And it becomes a huge relief once we get to the signing stage of planning. Unfortunately, a bad experience with the death of a parent, death of a sibling, or the loss of another close friend often is the catalyst for getting started. Don’t wait for this to be you.
Planning really does not need to be that difficult, but we are human and the thought of making plans for our own death or mental disability can be easy to put on the back burner. Imagine your loved ones in the middle of grief, while also having to track down paperwork, bank accounts, investment accounts, maybe even trying to find an attorney on the spot who can help. What if leaving a mess for you family really is worse than being uncomfortable for a bit while you create a plan that truly benefits them? It’s important to face the reality of NOT leaving your affairs in a big mess for family members to clean up afterwards. We hear from clients about how they felt guilty when faces with the prospect of leaving a mess for their family, and how they saw it more as their duty to complete their planning to avoid any problems upon their death, or even worse, their mental disability. One thing is for sure, nobody wants to become a burden for their loved ones.
If you’ve been putting off planning, you’re standing at a crossroads today. We’d like to help you choose the best path by showing you our simple 3-step process for planning.
Making the Process Easy: 3 Simple Steps to Get a Plan in Place
We strive to make the planning process easier for clients whenever possible. Our process isn’t rigid, and we adapt the process as needed to meet a client’s timelines and unique circumstances. Normally, we follow three simple steps, and we target completion within a 30-day window of time.
- Step 1 – No-Cost Initial Consultation
- Step 2 – Design Meeting to Build Your Plan and Understand Assets
- Step 3 – Review of Your Plan and Signing of Documents
Step 1: No-Cost Initial Meeting
It all starts with a no-cost initial consultation, which is really designed to hear what is important to your family, to gather general information on your family, to share options for how to get this done, and to outline a process we can follow to reach goals. Our first priority is to listen during the initial consultation, but we also share information to reduce any concerns about how we create the plan and to help reach your family’s goals. This no-cost initial consultation provides you with a chance to meet us, to envision the finish line for your goals, and to have confidence in the process of how we’ll help you get there. We strive to make it easy, ensure it is complete, and we also want to make it enjoyable as we work through the details. We are looking to build lifetime clients who can depend on us when life circumstances change, so it is important for us to start the process the right way.
Step 2: Design Your Plan
Once we’ve laid the groundwork for your plan in Step 1, we dig into the details of designing your plan in Step 2. We’ll provide you in advance the typical questions we’ll review, and we will have an interactive conversation during the design meeting on what assumptions, beliefs, or expectations will help you best meet your goals. After this discussion we’ll have the details we need to build your plan. We will provide you guidance on common assumptions where it makes sense, but we strive to help you feel confident making decisions based on your values. It is your plan, so it is very important to us that we align your assumptions and values with your goals.
Step 3: Review of Your Plan and Signing Documents
It is important to us for our clients to really understand what is included in their estate plan, so we usually review the documents in detail with them. Clients can certainly vary in how much of a review they prefer, but in the end, we want you to feel completely comfortable with your plan. Actually, we really want you to “own” your plan, and part of that is for us to be sure you understand the details. We provide additional flexibility for no-cost changes in the short term for all documents, but again we want you to have a plan that will actually work. We want you to understand your plan, and we really want you to tell others how easy it was to get to the finish line with your estate planning. All of this happens at your preferred pace, but in all stages we are focused on helping you reach your goals.
No plan is effective until we align your assets with the plan, and this is typically called the funding of your estate plan. We will work with you in a collective effort to understand your assets, recommend any changes on the ownership or beneficiary designations, and work with you to get these changes done where needed. The funding effort is a collaborative process and we also want you to understand the funding effort as you will probably have changing assets over the rest of your life. We want you to feel informed and comfortable with the plan when we are done with the process. We also want you to know that we will be there for ongoing support after the plan is complete.
We always aim to improve the process and make it easier, to make it most effective, and to streamline it for our clients’ interests as much as possible. We look forward to making it easy for you as well, so give us a call at the office and we can help you meet you planning goals. You don’t have to keep living with that nagging feeling that you really SHOULD do some planning. Give us a call at 913-345-2323, and take that first step today.