What to Expect When
You Meet With Us
We know you are coming to us for assistance with some of life’s most important plans! We are honored to serve you, and want you to always feel welcome and comfortable in our office. If you have questions, ask. If you need more clarification, ask again. We promise to stay away from “legalese!”
When you first contact us, you may not know exactly what kind of planning and legal documents you need to accomplish your goals. Don’t worry! We will carefully listen and figure out where to start.
If there are other professionals you want to include in our discussions, such as your accountant or financial advisor, that is easily arranged. Individuals who cannot attend the consultation in person may participate by phone.
You may also want your family members’ input. We welcome that, too. We understand that many people have trusting relationships with adult children and other loved ones, and want them to be a part of the planning process. The support and insights of family members can be very helpful.
That said, our attorneys have an ethical duty to speak with you first, privately, before your family member joins the consultation. This is necessary so we can be sure you can speak freely and confidentially. Some clients may have issues they want to discuss but do not want the family member in the waiting room to hear about – for example, monies the parent has gifted to or intends to leave to other children.
Our initial private discussion is very important. If your estate is ever challenged in a lawsuit and the challenger alleges you were pressured into making certain decisions, our lawyers will be able to state unequivocally that you were able to speak freely and confidentially, and were under no apparent undue influence.
Once we conclude our initial private discussion and you give us the okay, we will invite your child or other family member to participate in your consultation.
For Your Estate Planning Consultation: We will get to understand your goals, your values, who you want to leave your assets to, and if you have special concerns about any beneficiaries. Together we will review the nature, value and ownership of your assets to see how they best fit into your estate plan. For example, IRA’s have unique tax features, and annuities and real estate may also require special attention. We will discuss who you wish to serve as your Personal Representative and/or Trustee, and who you want to be in charge of handling your financial and health care decisions if you cannot do so. Together, we will formulate a plan that best suits your specific needs.
Once you give us the go-ahead, we will begin drafting your plan. We will schedule an appointment for you to meet with your attorney to review the plan, ask remaining questions, and sign your documents in conformity with all legal requirements. At the signing we will also advise you about where to best store your documents, who to share them with, and provide any additional instructions you may need – for example, how to re-title assets in the name of your living trust.
For Your Long-Term Care Planning Consultation: We understand this is often a time of transition and stress for families. Some people who seek our assistance have been caregivers for a loved one for a prolonged period and are quite “burned out.” We will do our part to reduce your stress level and put your mind at ease.
When we meet, we will discuss your loved one’s health and whether nursing home admission has already occurred or when it might occur. We will gather information about assets, how they are owned, and a multitude of other issues. Once you have provided us with the information and we have analyzed it, we will explain how your loved one might qualify for Medicaid long-term care benefits, and if applicable, for Veterans benefits. for long-term care
It will also be necessary for us to review the applicant’s current estate planning documents and if he/she is married, the spouse’s documents. If the applicant has a long-term care insurance policy, we will advise as to how that fits in with the Medicaid application, and explain its benefits to you.
We will stay in close contact with you once we begin to tackle the steps required to apply for Medicaid and/or Veterans benefits. Expect to be kept informed of progress. Your Case Manager and attorney are available if you have any questions. Finally, we will submit the application for your loved one, deal with the Medicaid office on your behalf, and inform you of your loved one’s approval for benefits.
Our law firm has good working relationships with nursing homes and other community resources. We may speak to the facilities to determine the availability of a bed for your loved one, and to discuss other matters on your behalf.
For Your Estate Administration Consultation: Many administrative steps must be taken following the death of a loved one, just when grieving family members feel least up to it. Our Estate Administration lawyers can handle many of these tasks, taking the pressure off Personal Representatives, Successor Trustees and making a trying situation a little less difficult for the family. Expect our attorneys and staff to treat you with the same compassion, patience and respect we would want for ourselves in similar circumstances.
If you are like most people, when you first contact us you will probably not have a complete picture of your deceased loved one’s assets, debts and obligations, or their financial and tax implications. We will work with whatever information you have at that time, and advise you of additional information needed. We will explain what must be done for you to live up to your legal responsibilities as Personal Representative or Successor Trustee. We will then advise you of what the administration process will involve and how we can assist.
If you choose our law firm to handle your probate or trust administration matter, our Estate Administration Department will work closely with you. You may phone or email us if have concerns or questions. We will keep you abreast of our progress, and complete the process for you as soon as possible.