Whether you’ve met with an estate planning lawyer before or it’s your first time, it’s important to understand how working with us, your Personal Family Lawyer® is different from meeting with a traditional lawyer.
Here we will explain what’s involved with our process, in hopes that it will inspire you to meet with us, your Personal Family Lawyer® and get clear on what your family needs you to have in place, so you don’t leave behind a mess if you become incapacitated or when you die. We promise to help you make the wisest, most affordable, most effective, time-saving plan for yourself and the people you love.
Meeting With A Traditional Lawyer
Given the unique approach of Personal Family Lawyer® firms, an initial consultation with our firm is quite different from an initial consultation with a typical estate planning attorney. A typical “initial consultation” would be a meet-and-greet-type of meeting, in which the lawyer describes the various legal documents you need to put in place and quotes you a fee to provide those documents.
In those types of meetings, it will likely be quite difficult for you to know exactly what you need for your unique family situation, assets, and how to make the right decision, outside of simply considering whether the cost of these documents fits within your budget. Deciding what you need based solely on the cost of documents will likely lead to you receiving a set of documents that won’t serve and protect your family or your assets when they need the most support.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen it all too often: You have the best of intentions to do the right thing and get a will or trust in place, but you either don’t do it, don’t complete it, or work with a lawyer who puts in place a documents-only plan that is little more than what you could do yourself online through an online document service. And then you become incapacitated or die, and your family is left with a mess: They don’t know where your assets are, they don’t know who to turn to, your documents are out-of-date, and your loved ones are lost, confused, and grieving all at once.
We’ve designed our entire process, which we call Life & Legacy Planning, to support an entirely different reality—one in which you use the estate planning process to not only leave behind a plan for the people you love, but to make your life even better right now. Let me explain how we do that.
Family Wealth Planning Session™
As your Personal Family Lawyer® firm, our entire process is designed to support you to make the right decisions for yourself and the people you love during your life and to leave a legacy of support and love to the people you care about most.
In service to that, our initial meeting with you is a two-hour working session, called a Family Wealth Planning Session. During this session, you’ll educate us on everything you own and all of your family dynamics, and we’ll educate you on how the law would apply to you, your assets, and your family in the event of your incapacity or death. Then, together we will create a plan for how to structure your affairs, how you’d like to have your family supported, and how to keep track of your assets, so your family never feels lost, confused, or alone during a time of grief. And by the time you leave the Session, you’ll feel relieved, cared for, and more clear than you’ve ever been about how to make life choices in alignment with the legacy you desire to leave, as a parent, as a business owner or professional, and as the CEO of your life.
This Planning Session is $750. But if you’d like us to waive this fee, we will do so if you are willing to do a bit of homework ahead of time. This homework is a critical part of the planning process, and it will benefit your loved ones whether you engage in a full plan with us or not. The homework will guide you to find everything you own, and document it, using our Personal Resource Map: Family Wealth Inventory and Assessment.
Just completing this initial assessment will likely get you more financially organized than you’ve ever been before.
We are consistently surprised to see that many of our clients do not have a clear awareness of what they own or how to locate all of their assets. And if you don’t know what you have and where it is and you haven’t documented it, how will your family know? This is exactly why there is more than $58 billion (yes, that’s billion with a “b”) of lost and unclaimed assets held by state and federal agencies in the U.S. This happens when you become incapacitated or die, and your family is unable to find or simply overlooks assets you’ve worked so hard to create because most people fail to properly inventory their assets and/ or keep that inventory regularly updated. So we support you to start there.
We know you haven’t devoted years of your precious time and energy to build your family wealth only for your heirs to lose track of it when something happens to you. That’s one reason the Family Wealth Planning Session is so beneficial. Whether you decide to create a full estate plan or just rework the one you have, after working with us, at the very least your family will know what you have and how to locate it should anything happen to you.
And if you do decide to create an estate plan or redesign an existing plan with us, the Family Wealth Planning Session will guide you to choose the type of plan you want based on your budget, what’s most important to you, what’s not important to you, and with a clear understanding of the impact of your choices. We will guide you to choose the most affordable and effective planning solution for your life and the people you love, so you can get your affairs in order and keep them that way throughout your lifetime and through all of life’s changes
This investment of your time now will save your family countless hours of heartache and work down the road, while also keeping your loved ones out of conflict and out of court. If you choose to work with us, you’ll get the peace of mind that comes with knowing you never have to make another financial or legal decision without our guidance again. And if and when something happens to you, your loved ones will get the same type of trusted advisor, who will be there for them when you can’t be.
Death is unavoidable. But you can make it far easier on the people you love by the choices you make now. And facing the reality of this fact allows you to make choices that will let you enjoy your current life even more. In fact, our clients often report a huge sense of relief after meeting with us, and they frequently say they wished they’d created a life and legacy plan sooner.
Life & Legacy Planning
You see, we’ve discovered that estate planning is about far more than planning for your death and passing on your “estate” and assets to your loved ones—it’s about planning for a life you love and a legacy worth leaving by the choices you make today—and this is why we call our services Life & Legacy Planning.
As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we are specially trained to educate, empower, and support you to make the right decisions for your life and for the people you love. Furthermore, because your plan will be designed to provide for your loved ones in the event of your death or incapacity, we aren’t just here to serve you—we’re here to serve your entire family.
In the end, your Life & Legacy Plan goes far beyond simply creating documents and then never seeing us again. We will develop a relationship with you and your family that lasts not only for your lifetime but for the lifetime of your children and their children if that’s your wish. And this all starts with our Family Wealth Planning Session. If you’d like to learn more about this process or schedule your appointment, contact us, your Personal Family Lawyer® today.
This article is a service of Liz Smith, Personal Family Lawyer® in Juneau, Alaska. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Life & Legacy Planning Session,™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today at 907-312-5436 to schedule a Life & Legacy Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge; or book a time for our team to call you at a time you choose.