The Estate Planning Team
As a law firm that focuses its practice in the areas of estate planning and administration, we work closely with other professional advisors, including Certified Financial Planner™ professionals, Investment Advisors, Financial Consultants, Insurance Professionals, Certified Public Accountants and Tax Advisors. As appropriate, we oftentimes find that coordinating our efforts with a client's other advisors provides our clients with the most sophisticated, comprehensive and effective estate planning possible. To that end, we welcome our clients to inviting their other advisors into the estate planning process.
Step One: The Initial Consultation
The first step in developing an effective estate plan is to have an initial consultation with the prospective clients. First, in the course of getting to know one another, the prospective client and attorney need to evaluate whether they can have an effective working relationship. Next, the clients should explain their needs, plans and goals for their estate plan and provide information regarding their assets, including their assets' value and title. The attorney will use the initial consultation to educate the clients on the laws relevant to their plans based the goals expressed by the clients and the clients assets. After providing an overview of the legal landscape, in most cases the attorney will make specific recommendations to the client and also quote a flat fee for design, drafting and implementation of the plans.
A prospective client to engage our firm by signing a retainer agreement and paying a retainer fee; or they may choose to take some time to reflect before moving ahead.
Step Two: Preparing the Documents
Upon engagement of our firm we will undertake to finalize the plan design and begin preparation of necessary documents. After the documents are complete, we will mail drafts to the clients, with a detailed letter explaining critical provisions of the provisions of the documents. We take make every effort to help our clients understand even the most complicated documents. Many of our clients have expressed great appreciation for our commitment to designing a plan and preparing documents which are specific to that client's unique needs and goals. In addition, to advice letters that accompany our documents, in more complicated plans we also provide detailed diagrams that are specific to each client. Finally, after the client reviews the documents, our letter and the diagram, we welcome the client to set a meeting with the attorney to review the documents, discuss questions and make necessary changes. After, the documents are completed and the clients are satisfied the plan meets their goals, arrangements are made to formerly execute the documents.
Step Three: Follow-Up
After our clients have signed their documents, we continue to offer our expertise to ensure our clients' estate plans remain current. Our clients receive our estate planning newsletter. Through the newsletter and other periodic mailings, we seek to inform our clients of changes, including changes in Maryland and federal law, which may affect their estate planning and to help them maintain an awareness of their estate planning goals. Also, our firm periodically conducts client events designed to educate our clients or their family members on such important issues as recent changes in tax and other laws, tax saving techniques and charitable giving opportunities, and also "How To" classes designed to educate family members of our clients who have been designated as Trustees, Personal Representatives, or other important fiduciary roles regarding duties involved in executing their roles.
Lawyer's Quill Telephone Advisory Service
Probably the most popular program we offer to our clients is our Lawyer's Quill Advisory Service. This free service for our clients was created in response to a client who expressed hesitation to call us and ask important questions relating to her estate plan because she did not want to be charged a fee for each phone call. We have all heard the adage attributed to Abe Lincoln: "a lawyer's time is his stock and trade". That is very true; and economics require that we charge for our time. Yet our goal as a firm is to meet people's needs and to be accessible and available. As we contemplated the need and concern mentioned, our solution was to offer the Lawyer's Quill Telephone Advisory Service. Each Wednesday morning from 9 to 11 an attorney in our office will be available to answer any questions our clients may have related to estate planning, including client estate plans previously completed. To make this service available to as many clients as possible we request calls be limited to 10 minutes.
Please visit our Newsletter Archive for an online library of articles on issues related to estate planning. We have posted a number of articles suitable for use as hand-outs.
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