Getting Started if You Have an Estate Plan That Needs Updating
I work with many people who already have existing estate plans, but need to update them. Sometimes an existing plan was written many years ago, and needs a legal update. More often, though, people come to see me for updates when they've had a major life change and need their estate plan to reflect that change: a new marriage; a divorce; a big move; a new baby; or something has changed with respect to a child doing well (or not). This is all perfectly fine, and let's face it, completely normal -- no matter how much we wish life would stay the same, it just never does.
If you are serious about getting your plan updated, and willing to commit to a reasonable completion schedule, I would be honored to work with you.
To make an appointment, call my paralegal, Susie Granata, at (650) 237-7218 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will send you a link to self-book at a convenient time.
Here's an outline of my process and fee structure.
If you have an existing plan, you are either going to amend that plan or restate it. An amendment makes sense when you have a small, discrete change (like a new Trustee). A restatement makes sense when you have lots of changes and need to update your trust legally as well. I also restate your trust if you've worked with a different attorney in the past. A restatement uses the existing trust's name so you don't have to retitle any assets that have already been transferred to the trust. I will also review your other existing documents (such as Durable Powers of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directives) to see if they need legal updates as well. If you are doing a Restatement, which basically means a whole new plan because you'll also update your Wills, Powers of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directive, and you are an existing client of mine, the fee is $4400, which is 80% of what I charge new clients. I appreciate your loyalty and want to recognize that. If we are doing a Restatement of your trust, but I didn't draft it originally, you are a new client (to me) and the fee will be $5500.The Process
1. You will provide me with copies of your existing documents, either before we meet, or at the first meeting. I do not keep original documents, but can scan them for you at our first meeting. I can set up a secure portal for you to upload them as well.
2. You will let me know what changes you know you want to make to your existing plan, either before you meet, or at the first meeting.
3. You will meet with me to discuss your changes.
4. I will review your existing documents and suggest any additional legal updates that would make sense, given current law and your current net worth and family situation. (Many clients can simplify documents drafted prior to 2012 because current estate tax exemptions levels mean that more than 99% of all estates will be not subject to the estate tax.)
5. Once you agree on the scope of the project, I will ask you to sign an engagement letter and get to work. Updating your estate plan won't be effective until you sign the updated documents, so my entire focus during our work together is to get your project finished efficiently and effectively. I will bill you hourly for all work required to finish your plan after a six-month period, in addition to the Flat Fee.Fees
I do my best to do all of my restatements on a Flat Fee basis. If I haven't work with you in the past, you are, essentially, a brand new client, so my Flat Fees still apply. If we have worked together, but your documents are more than 5 years old, we are, essentially, starting over if you have more than a small change that can be addressed with an amendment. I will offer you a 20% discount on my existing fees, to thank you for your loyalty over the years.
I believe that Flat Fee pricing makes for transparency, and lets you ask the questions you need to ask to understand the plan. For certain, complex matters, though, when you need my help to draft customized plans for complicated family situations or for sophisticated business assets, I have found that hourly rates are the fairest, and most transparent way to offer excellent service for more complex matters. My hourly rate is currently $450/hour. If we work on an hourly basis, I require a retainer equal to my estimated fee. After your first meeting, and before you sign her engagement letter, I will discuss the proper pricing for your plan and we will agree, together, on the pricing structure for your updated plan.How Much Do The Flat Fee Portfolios Cost?
- The "Peace of Mind" Portfolio is for a single person and costs $4000
- The "Maximize Your Estate" Portfolio is for a couple and costs $5,500 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" 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. I will discuss this at our first meeting and you will not sign an engagement letter until the Flat Fee for your plan is determined and you agree with it.
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