Getting Started – Wills & Trusts

How do I Get Started?

First, call (858) 271-6244 or email (info@denherderlaw.com) our office to schedule a complimentary consultation.

How Does the Process Work?
Our office specializes in estate planning (wills, trusts, powers of attorney), probate, guardianship and conservatorships. Our initial consultation is free of charge, and that is where we take the opportunity to educate you on the various estate planning tools available to you and give you our advice on what is best for your situation.

We distinguish ourselves from other estate planning firms in several ways:

Planning for Families: If you have young children, we spend a significant portion of time planning about how you want your children raised if you are not here to raise them (this covers the emotional side of things: how you feel about religion, education, extracurricular activities, ensuring that both sides of your family have access to the children; covering potential future issues such as substance abuse, or ensuring that if when they marry, their inheritance is protected; and this covers the financial side of things: would you pay for a vehicle when they are old enough to drive? High school graduation trip?  Wedding?  Down payment on a home?)

Making the Complex Simple: Sometimes the decisions to be made regarding who inherits, how they inherit, who should manage things, who to raise the kids…all of it can be overwhelming! We understand. And we are here to help. We have helped thousands of families make decisions that seem daunting…and when they are done, they are so relieved. We are skilled at getting to the heart of the decisions to be made, and breaking them down for you…so you don’t have to figure it out…we do that for you.

Creating Your Last Love Letter: We encourage you to include your LIFE into the plan…what you have learned, your hopes and dreams for the future of those you love, your religious testimony, the things you wish you had done differently…we encourage you to make this document your living legacy to those you love.

Continuity: We have four attorneys in the firm, ensuring that you always have continuity in your planning

Helping You In Your Loss: We handle not only the planning, but we take care of you and your family when a loved one dies, helping with all aspects of administration

If you decide to proceed with a complete estate plan (Revocable Living Trust, Financial Power of Attorney, Advance Health Care Directive, Pour-Over Wills, guardianship provisions if you have young children, and the transfer of your home into the trust), we proceed in three meetings. The first meeting (which can be the same date as our free consultation, or at a different date) is all of the “What Ifs”.  This is where we walk you through all of the possible scenarios and have you give us your “gut reaction” on each of our questions.  Of course you can change your answers any time before we finalize the plan.  The second meeting is where we go over the rough draft, make sure you understand it, and fine tune everything. The final meeting is where everything is signed and notarized.  We typically schedule each meeting 2 weeks apart, so your plan should be complete in approximately 4 to 6 weeks, depending on your scheduling.  If there is urgency, we can complete a plan in as little as 24 hours.

What is the Cost?
Our fees range from $400 for a simple will, to $4,675 for a complete estate plan for a married couple with complex blended family scenarios to be considered. For married couples, our complete estate plan ranges from $2,875 to $3,475 depending on the complexity. For single individuals, our complete estate plan ranges from $1,975 to $3,475 depending on complexity. We charge one-third (1/3) once you begin the estate planning process, one-third (1/3) at the rough draft meeting, and the balance when we finish (we have other payment plans if necessary). Before you decide that our fees are beyond what you are looking for, we encourage you to come in for a free consultation…to experience why we are different. That way, when you explore other estate planning firms, you will understand the differences between the firms and the services they offer. We are confident that you will have a wonderful experience with our firm! There are four attorneys in our office, and we work as a team. Any one of us would be happy to meet with you!

What if I Already Have a Trust and Need it Updated?
For our existing clients, we pride ourselves are being quick and efficient in helping you review your plan and assisting you with changes related changes in your family dynamics, or providing our advice on changes in the law that relate to your situation. For these types of changes, we bill hourly, billed to the tenth of the hour. We strive to give you an estimate in advance of the time we think your revisions will take, so that you are aware, up front, of the potential cost.

 

For clients who are new to our firm, but who have an existing estate plan including a Trust, our firm will happily help with a review of the existing plan documents, advise regarding procedural or substantive changes which might be suggested to comply with your needs or changes in the laws. We will also review with you some substantive changes or additions to reflect your current wishes and needs. We can include customized instructions, personal letters to beneficiaries or heirs, and accommodation of specific religious and/or charitable interests, which you may have. We offer a free consultation simply for you to determine if you would like to work with us and we are a good fit for your family. If you choose to utilize our services, we charge a flat fee of $350 for a single client, or $500 for married clients, to review your existing plan and advise you of necessary changes based on changes in the tax laws or changes to estate law. If you have changes you want made to your plan due to a change in dynamics of your beneficiaries, we will talk with about whether a simple amendment will work, or whether you will need to revise your entire plan. Either way, we will give you an estimate of fees, and the choice is yours as to how you would like to proceed.

 

Questions to Consider:

  1. Who you want to handle your financial affairs if you cannot (trustee) – We need first and second choice, and their names, addresses and phone number
  2. Who do you want to raise your minor children (guardian) – We need first and second choice, and their names, addresses and phone number
  3. Who do you want to inherit everything when you die?  You can list names and percentages, or distribute it all equally, etc.
  4. Do you want the people who inherit to inherit outright, or do you want the money doled out to them over time?
  5. What if the person(s) you named above die before you?  Do their kids inherit?  If so, at what ages or stages to do you want them to inherit (for example, the money is held in trust for their health or educational needs, then they get 1/3 of what’s left when they are 25, ½ the remainder at 30 and the balance at 35)
  6. What if you and your immediate family all die together (no children, no grandchildren left) – then who inherits.  You can list friends, charities, parents, siblings, whatever you want.  If you are married and cannot agree, then ½ can be distributed pursuant to the husband’s wishes, and ½ can be distributed pursuant to the wife’s wishes.  You can give us a list of 40 different people/entities to inherit, all with varying percentages…
  7. Who do you want to make medical decisions for you if you cannot?  We need first and second choice
  8. Do you want to donate organs for transplant, science or research?
  9. Do you want to be buried or cremated?  If buried, where?  If cremated, what do you want done with your ashes?