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What Generally Motivates Someone To Create An Estate Plan?


Any number of things can motivate someone to create an estate plan. The most common trigger seems to be retirement planning, but I think estate plans should be created earlier. People should be prompted to create an estate plan once they have children or when they have assets that they want to protect, specifically real estate.

What Are The Most Common Estate Planning Mistakes That You See People Make?

The most common mistake that people make is failing to create an estate plan. However, I’m seeing more and more people trying to create plans themselves using online services or software programs. The problem is that they are not asking the right questions, and they are not addressing the right issues. That is because they don’t know how.

Why Is The Initial Interview With You So Critical In Setting Up An Estate Plan?

There are two purposes for the initial interview. The first purpose is to ensure that the client is comfortable working with me and my office. The second purpose is for the client and me to become acquainted with one another, so that I can help them structure an estate plan that would be a good fit for their family. Otherwise, you end up getting the cookie cutter estate plan that’s meant for the average family, and nobody is average. Everybody has certain things in their lives that differentiate them from other people.

What Questions Should An Estate Planning Attorney Be Asking In That Initial Meeting?

We certainly want to know information about the client’s family and any special issues related to that. If there are any previous marriages, we want to know whether or not there are children from those marriages. We then find out information about that person’s estate, including the nature of their assets. We need information regarding any real estate, securities, or closely held business interests that they have. We also find out the total value of their estate so that we can do the appropriate tax planning.

What Documents Should Someone Bring To An Initial Consultation With An Estate Planning Attorney?

In my office, I give the potential client a form to complete. It is seven pages long, and it is meant to gather all of the information that I spoke of previously. In addition, it requires documents that are related to the assets, such as bank statements, brokerage statements, and certainly the deeds to any real estate. If the client is widowed, then the death certificate of the deceased spouse will be needed.

How Long Is It Going To Take To Set Up a Proper Estate Plan?

It usually takes us somewhere around three to four weeks to set up a proper estate plan. About one week after the initial consultation, I will send a draft of the documents to my clients for them to review. It usually takes them a week or so to go through it and get back to me with questions. Then, we schedule a time for them to come in and sign. So, it’s not a lengthy process.

Is An Estate Plan Expensive? When Am I Needed To Provide Payment?

Compared to what it saves, an estate plan is extremely reasonably priced. They usually run anywhere from $1000 to $2000 for a family, but they avoid tens of thousands of dollars lost in probate or conservatorship. If a client decides to retain us, we give them a firm fee at the initial consultation, and collect half of it at that time. We would collect the other half of the fee a couple of weeks later, once the documents are signed.

Who Should Attend The Initial Meeting To Set Up The Plan?

The only ones who should attend the initial meeting are the principals, meaning the individual person who is setting up their estate plan, or the husband and wife who are setting up the family estate plan. It is unnecessary and actually inconvenient if someone else attends the initial meeting. This is because there is attorney-client privilege, and if there is someone else at the meeting, it disallows us from maintaining that privilege.

For more information on Creating An Estate Plan In California, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (626) 385-6303 today.

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