How long does it take to make an estate plan?

I would love to help you complete your plan in six months or less. You waited a long time to call, so let's get your plan done while you're focused on it. A half-done plan provides no legal protection for your family. To qualify for my Flat Fee program, in fact, you have to commit to this time frame. I will charge you hourly for revisions after that. Why? Well, I think part of what you are hiring me to do is to help you get this done and this is one way to keep you focused and engaged.

What's the process?

Here's a summary of how our process works:

  1. Download the Getting Started Packet from my website.
  2. Fill out the Client Questionnaire, or as much of it as you can. It's common to leave some things blank, but you need to choose guardians before we can meet.
  3. Make your first appointment online or call me at 650/237-7221.
    The Initial Appointment takes about 1 and one half hours, depending on how many questions you've got..
  4. Within two to three weeks, you'll receive draft documents in the mail to review.
  5. The Draft Review Meeting is the next step. We will meet to go over your drafts and fill in any missing items. I'll do my best to answer your questions and to give you an overview of how your plan works. If you can't do this appointment in person, we can use Skype.
  6. Once the documents are ready, you'll come back for a Final Signing Appointment. This meeting takes about an hour. You'll sign your final documents and learn about how to take care of your estate plan over time - who to give copies to, how to keep it current, and where to keep it safe. You will take the original home along with a thumb drive with .pdfs of your signed documents. I will keep scans of your documents, but no paper copies.

How much does an estate plan cost and what does it include?

  1. I will give you an estimate of the cost of creating your living trust after our first meeting. If you qualify for one of my FLAT FEE PORTFOLIOS, I will let you know at our first meeting, after I've had a chance to get to know you and your objectives. My Flat Fee Portfolios are designed to provide you with peace of mind, no hassle up-front pricing, and followup to assist you in transferring your assets into the trust. It is a way to work together without the meter running, so that you can ask all the questions that you've got without worrying about the cost. (Although every once in awhile I do have to adjust the Flat Fee upward to reflect the scope of your project if it creeps up. Just like a 'change order' when you are remodeling.)

  2. If your project does not qualify for my Flat Fee program, or it takes longer than six months, I charge on an hourly basis, and my rate is $400/hour. I also charge on an hourly basis for certain complex trusts and restatements. I prefer to work on a Flat Fee basis, and know (from experience) that you do, too.  

  3. All of my Trust Portfolios, either those billed on a Flat Fee or hourly basis, include a Living Trust, Wills, Durable Powers of Attorney, an Advance Health Care Directive, a Certification of Trust, and an Authorization for the Release of Confidential Health Care Information. All Trust Portfolios include the transfer of your residence and other California real property into the trust.

What Does a Flat Fee Portfolio Include? Both Flat Fee Portfolios include the following:

  • All the documents you need for a comprehensive plan: a Living Trust, Wills, Durable Powers of Attorney, an Advance Health Care Directive, a Certification of Trust, and an Authorization for the Release of Confidential Health Care Information.

  • No-hassle flat fees, billed once you receive your draft documents for all time and expenses incurred while drafting your estate plan, including meetings, phone calls, and emails.  The only thing you'll be billed for outside of my Flat Fee are third-party fees that GCA has paid on your behalf, such as county recording fees or other court filings.

  • Transfer of all of your California real property into your trust.

  • One hour of attorney consultation time in the year after you've signed your documents to assist with any questions you have about transferring assets into the trust and my staff's time to help you complete the forms necessary to transfer your assets into the trust.

How Much Do The Flat Fee Portfolios Cost?

  • The "Peace of Mind" Portfolio is for a single person and costs $3500.

  • The "Maximize Your Estate" Portfolio is for a couple and costs $5000 for a basic plan for a married couple with an estate under $6-8 million dollars. This plan works for the majority of my new clients. 

  • The "Customized Flat Fee" Portfolio For higher net worth estates, for those who want to leave their assets in lifetime trusts for children, for couples with non-citizen spouses, children with special needs, or those with vacation homes that they want to leave in trust, there are additional Flat Fee modules in addition to this base portfolio price. We will discuss this at your first meeting and you will not sign an engagement letter until the Flat Fee for your plan is determined and you agree with it. (Don't worry, we'll figure that out together.)

How will I be billed?

I require one-half of the Flat Fee at the Initial Meeting and the other half at the Signing Meeting. For hourly work, I require a retainer equal to one-half of the estimated fee at our Initial Meeting and the balance upon signing. Your first payment is held in GCA's trust fund until I send you the drafts, then it is released to me.

Does GCA accept credit cards?

Nope. Sorry. We accept cash, checks, or wire transfers.

When Can I Make an Estate Planning Appointment?

The best way to see what's available is to use my online appointment calendar--I try my best to keep it up to date and it will show you what's available for any given day. If you can't find a convenient time, email me at liza@gcalaw.com or call me at 650/237-7221 and we'll figure out a way to meet. I can also meet with you in Los Gatos at my satellite office upon request.  

How Can Make an Appointment?

Click on Make An Appointment to go directly to my calendar.

What If I'm not quite ready to get started yet?

If you'd like to meet me, you can book a complimentary 1/2 hour Estate Planning Strategy Session to discuss how we would work together to create a comprehensive estate plan for you. This is not a substantive meeting (that's a real appointment!), this meeting is just a way for us to meet, and for you to ask me general questions about the process, and to find out more about me. (You can book this appt online or over the phone, on a time-available basis). If time permits, you can decide at the end of that first 1/2 hour to get started and we can get right to work.

How Can I Pick a Guardian?

That can be the most difficult part of estate planning. I can't tell you exactly who to pick, but if you download the article Picking Guardians from the Getting Started page, I hope it helps you find someone.

Where Is GCA Law Partners?

Our Office is at 2570 West El Camino Real, Suite 400, Mountain View, California. That's near the corner of San Antonio and El Camino. There's plenty of parking. There's a map and directions on the website.