The Estate Planning Process

Step One – Preparation

When you come to the appointment, we find it is helpful if you bring a written list of all the estate planning questions you have. Also, please bring the full names and birthdates of all your children. If non-family members will be named in your estate plan, we ask that you bring their full names and addresses as well.

Step Two – Consultation

This meeting with Attorney Michael J. O’Loughlin can be held at your home, nursing home, or hospital, if it is difficult or inconvenient for you to travel to one of our offices. In this no obligation meeting, Mr. O’Loughlin will visit with you about your family, answer any questions you have, make a list of the objectives you would like to accomplish, and then make recommendations on the best course for you to take to meet those objectives. If your objectives are something we can help you with, Mr. O’Loughlin will tell you exactly what it will cost for us to create your estate plan. We charge a flat fee for all the work we do, so you will know exactly what your work will cost before you decide whether or not to hire us. After Mr. O’Loughlin tells you what the cost will be, he will simply ask if you would like to move ahead with the work. At that point you may say “Yes, we would like to get an estate plan,” or you may say “No, we don’t want to get an estate plan.” Either answer is fine. If you choose to not hire us we will end the meeting and part as friends. If you choose to move ahead with the creation of your estate plan, we will continue the meeting and go over the details of your estate plan. We will also need to collect half of our fee at the end of the first meeting. The other half of the fee will be due after your estate plan is complete.

Step Three – Review and Signing of your Documents

Based upon the information we receive from you in the initial meeting and subsequent phone calls and correspondence, we will prepare your estate plan. Usually a second meeting with Mr. O’Loughlin is not necessary. After your document drafts are complete, one of our Paralegals will call you on the phone to review the estate plan and verify the name spellings, dates of birth, and addresses of everyone named in your documents. The Paralegal will then schedule a time for you to review and sign your documents. This signing meeting can be held at one of our offices, or in your home, nursing home, or hospital.

Step Four – Implementation of your Estate Plan

Once your estate planning documents are signed, it is important for you to immediately title your assets according to the instruction we give you. This is necessary in order for you and your family to make use of the advantages your estate plan offers. Depending upon the type of estate plan we prepare for you, its implementation can be accomplished by adding a Beneficiary designation or Pay on Death designation to your assets, or by retitling your assets in order for them to be held in the name of your Trust. This process is easy to complete, but is extremely important. Once you have finished retitling your assets, you should congratulate yourself because your estate plan will be complete. You and your family will then be able to enjoy the benefits a proper estate plan offers you.

Optional - Family Meeting

The family meeting is strictly optional. We understand that some people think it will be helpful to explain their estate plan to their family, while other people want their affairs to remain strictly confidential. We respect whichever decision you make. There are advantages either way.

If you do choose to have a family meeting, you may have it alone with your family, or Mr. O’Loughlin would be happy to conduct it. If you desire, he will explain how your estate planning documents work, and will go over the steps family members need to take at the time of your incapacity or death. This meeting can also be a good opportunity for you to discuss your hopes and desires with your loved ones. As children are often uncomfortable bringing up the subject of your eventual death, this meeting can also be an opportunity for them to ask you questions they have had on their mind.

Again, we want to make sure you understand that it is not necessary for you to have a family meeting. Whether or not you include this step is completely up to you.

Summary

Once their estate plan is complete, clients often tell us they experience great peace of mind, knowing they have protected themselves and their loved ones. Sometimes we are asked “Why doesn’t everyone create an estate plan?” We believe there are two reasons: 1) Procrastination, people simply never get around to doing it; and 2) Lack of information. We hope this website provides you with the information you need, so you can take the steps necessary to get an estate plan in place for your family.