Estate Planning Lawyer in Clinton Township
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What is our Process?

When we are initially contacted by a potential client for estate planning services, one of the first things we discuss is our process for preparing a plan. Many clients we deal with are just beginning the process and may have never even had contact with a lawyer before. Some folks believe that the estate planning process is going to be worse than going to the dentist or their tax preparer, while others simply have no idea what is going to happen. The first step in our process is to put their mind at ease and explain how we will move forward.

Initial interview

After a telephone call or other contact with the potential client, we schedule what we call the initial interview. This interview is the time where we get to know the client and the client gets to know our firm. During this meeting we gather the information that we will need to tailor a plan to the client’s circumstances. For example, we will want to understand the size of the estate, the assets that are held and need to be dealt with, and the family situation including the names of any children, grandchildren and others that might be involved. We will also seek to understand the client’s goals so that we understand their situation and therefore can make appropriate recommendations.

From the information we gather we begin to form an understanding of what we believe the plan should include. Specifically, we make recommendations regarding what types of planning tools should be used such as a straightforward trust or specialized trusts, a will, beneficiary designations, deeds, and other documents that we believe should be prepared.

It is also during this initial meeting that we begin to discuss the costs associated with the plan that we recommend. Generally, we explain each of the alternatives that are available, and the costs associated with each way of going forward. It is then up to the client to decide regarding how to move forward.

For those looking to start the planning process, it is also important to understand that we do not charge for the initial interview. Unlike some firms that only provide an initial interview after you have attended one of their “presentations” or charge you $500 for the initial conference, we insist that we get to know our clients before we begin charging. We want to make sure that we are a good fit for the client and that the client is comfortable with us before we agree to undertake the preparation of a plan.

Moving forward

One of two things often happened towards the end of the initial informational meeting. Frequently the client will agree to move forward with our recommendation, and we will proceed to the drafting stage of the process. If the client is not ready to proceed, then we will pause the process until they are ready to move forward. Sometimes the client, or clients if it is a couple, for example, must consider some of the issues that were raised during our initial meeting. If that is the case, we can schedule another meeting or simply put everything on hold until they have had a chance to discuss the matter and are ready to move forward. With some clients there could be a short pause while others could take weeks or months. Whatever it takes, we work within the client’s time frame.

Drafting

During the drafting stage of the planning process, we prepare the documents that were agreed upon with the clients. Each document is carefully reviewed to make sure that they are consistent with the client’s goals and objectives. When completed a set of draft documents are forwarded to the client for review. We always want to ensure that the documents are prepared accurately and in accord with the client’s plans. After answering any questions or addressing any concerns we move on to the signing phase and schedule an appointment with the client to execute the documents.

Signing

The final phase of the estate planning process involves an in-person meeting with a client to execute the final documents with appropriate witnesses and notary signatures. After the signing we assemble the original documents and, after making an electronic copy for our files, binding of the originals and providing a loose copy of documents that might be needed by financial institutions or medical providers. These documents are forwarded to the client in the mail for them to place in a safe, fireproof location with further instruction that might be needed to effectuate the plan.

Of course, we are always willing to answer any additional questions the client might have after the signing is complete. For example, if there are questions that might come up with financial planners, banks, or others regarding the plan we are only a telephone call or email away. We are always willing to help put the client’s mind at ease when it comes to the implementation of their plan.

We can help

Any competent estate planning lawyer will assemble a list of your assets to ensure that there is an understanding of all the pieces that must be addressed in an estate plan. The estate plan itself should address each of those pieces so that there is no conflict between the various documents that are put into place. Unfortunately, clients run the risk of leaving conflicting instructions if a piecemeal approach is taken or the client simply orders a fancy will from some online service that cannot legally provide legal advice or counseling. We are different in that we work with the client to create a tailored plan that addresses their unique situation.

The estate planning attorneys of Penzien & McBride, PLLC have been helping families and business owners to make these types of decisions for nearly two decades. If you are looking for a compassionate professional that can help you through the estate planning process, or if you would like additional information about our services, give us a call at (586) 690-4400 or complete our contact us form.

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