Why Do I Require a Completion Commitment?
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. I only want to work with clients who are committed and focused on the project. Six monthis is more than enough time to get this done. I will charge you hourly for any further time it takes to complete your plan, in addition to the Flat Fee. Why? Well, I think part of what you are hiring me to do is to help you get this done. Starting is great, but finishing is what matters.
What's the process?
Here's a summary of how our process works:
- Download the Getting Started Packet from my website.
- Fill out the Client Questionnaire and the attached spreadsheet, 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. The more financial information you can provide at the beginning, the better, but do not let that keep you from getting started. We can add that information when you receive the drafts if necessary.
- To make your first appointment call my paralegal, Susie Granata, at 650/237-7218.
The Initial Appointment takes about 1 and one half hours.
- 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 Zoom.
- 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?
- 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.)
- If your project does not qualify for my Flat Fee program, I charge on an hourly basis, and my rate is $425/hour. I prefer to work on a Flat Fee basis, and know (from experience) that you do, too.
- 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 into the trust. I bill $350/deed for additional California properties. I do not prepare deeds for out-of-state properties but can refer you to a third party company that can assist you with that. This Fee does NOT include any third-party costs that we incur, such as the cost of recording your deeds with the county, these are billed separately.
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, that include all of my time and internal 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. If your project exceeds the initial scope of the project, I reserve the right to increase the Flat Fee. (This happens, but not that often.)
- Transfer of your residence into your trust.
How Much Do The Flat Fee Portfolios Cost?
- The "Peace of Mind" Portfolio is for a single person and costs $3800.
- The "Maximize Your Estate" Portfolio is for a couple and costs $5500 for a basic plan for a married couple with an estate under $12-15 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 payment of the Flat Fee upon signing the Engagement Letter. For hourly work, I require a retainer equal to the estimated fee upon signing the Engagement Letter. Your payment is held in GCA's trust fund. I release 80% of the fee when I send you the drafts, and 20% upon signing. Why do I collect the entire fee up front? I do this to get you to commit to finishing your plan, to simplify billing and because if you do not finish your plan within 6 months from when I send you the drafts, any further work required to finish your plan is billed on an hourly basis, and your 20% deposit will be returned to you.
Does GCA accept credit cards?
Nope. Sorry. We accept cash, checks, or wire transfers.
When Can I Make an Estate Planning Appointment?
To make an appointment call my paralegal, Susie Granata, at 650/237-7218. I limit my availability so that I can offer my current clients my full attention. If you can't find a time that works for you, contact Susie. I maintain a waiting list as well for people who would like to come in earlier, in case I have a cancellation.
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.