Generally, estate planning in each of our offices happens in an easy and efficient three-step process.

The first step is called the design meeting.

The design meeting is conducted after we’ve received and reviewed your estate plan fact finder, assets and existing trust (if you have one). We usually require this 3-5 days prior to our first meeting so that we can maximize our time together and you get the most benefit out of the meeting with your attorney. We use the information from your fact finder and your existing trust to tailor the design meeting for you. If you have a current trust, we will also give you our opinion regarding your existing trust and estate planning documents.

At your design meeting, we examine what your goals are and how to best protect the ones you love. We will also discuss things like who your successor Trustee should be, who your power of attorney agent should be, and who to name as permanent and temporary Guardian for your children (if you have minors) if something should happen to you. We’ll also be talking about how your assets should pass to your spouse, children and/or other beneficiaries. Other beneficiaries could be other family members, friends and/or charities. Another part of the design process is to look at what happens when one spouse passes away and how the assets get passed to your spouse as well as what happens if you ever become incapacitated.

Other important topics at your design meeting will include not only how property can be left to a spouse but how you can leave assets to your children or other beneficiaries in a way that protects them from creditors. In your design meeting, health care directives and the purpose of having a HIPAA Authorization for Release of Medical Information will be discussed. These documents are critical in an estate plan so that if you’re ever injured or ill and cannot make decisions for yourself, your family or other designated people can step in and talk with your doctors as well as make medical decisions for you. At the end of your design meeting, your estate plan signing will be scheduled.

Step two in our estate planning process is your signing meeting.

This usually occurs about 2-3 weeks after your initial design meeting. Before you come in for your trust signing meeting, we will send you your trust summary, Advance Health Care Directive, your names and fiduciaries list (to ensure we have all names properly spelled and in the right order) and your Guardianship Nomination (if you have minor children). At the signing meeting, you will be signing your trust (or trust restatement) and your other estate planning documents. You will need to bring your passport, driver’s license or other legal identification for the notary. The signing meeting typically takes between 45 minutes to an hour. At the end of the signing meeting, we will schedule a third meeting with you called your funding meeting.

The third step is your funding meeting.

This meeting is usually scheduled for 3 or more weeks after your signing meeting. At your funding meeting, we sit down with you and explain how your trust gets funded and give you a funding instruction letter for later reference. If you own real estate in California or any business interests, we typically fund those types of assets to your trust for you. Other assets such as stock, bank accounts or brokerage accounts require you to set up the account in the name of your trust or place a beneficiary statement on the account. In order to best protect yourself and your family, it is best to get this important part of the estate planning process done soon after signing your estate planning documents.

We make the process with us easy and simple and all with professionalism and a caring team. To inquire about setting up or updating your estate plan, call our offices at (760) 448-2220.
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