The Montana Estate Lawyer

Friday, December 8, 2017

Our Living Trust Planning Process

Here’s how our unique process for trust-based estate planning, Peace of Mind By Design, works.  Our process is also described in Keith Tokerud’s book, “Introduction to Estate Planning – How to Protect and Pass on Your Legacy,” Bardolf & Company, 2017. 

The Right Fit Conversation

We start with The Right Fit Conversation.  You and we first have to decide if we are a good fit to work together.  This gives the attorney a chance to learn about you and your family, your concerns, and your goals for your planning.  It gives you a chance to learn about us and our legal practice.  The attorney then describes our planning process, and provides an estimate of what your investment for the planning may be.

The Design Builder

If we decide we are a good fit, we go to work on The Design Builder.  We take all the time necessary to unearth and get very clear about your goals and concerns, and we thoroughly explore the issues that may impact your estate planning.  Our clients tell us this is the most valuable aspect of our work together.  It gives you a chance to get very clear on what you want for your future, your family and your legacy.

Once you’ve decided what you want to accomplish we discuss the legal “tools” we might use, and together we design a plan to satisfy your concerns and accomplish your goals.  The attorney can then quote a guaranteed, all-inclusive price for the entire process.  If you decide to go ahead, we enter into an engagement agreement.  So, you’re not committed until you know exactly what we’re going to do and what your investment will be.

The Design Solution

Armed with your “marching orders,” our team then drafts documents for you to review.  We prepare diagrams outlining your planning to make sure we’re all on the same page:  that we’ve understood your marching orders and you’ve understood how the planning will work.  We than sit down and review the planning documents themselves.  Again, we take all the time necessary for you to really understand how the documents work, to make sure the documents address your concerns and goals, and to answer all your questions.  When we’ve done that and made any changes you wish, you can sign the documents.

The Asset Game Plan

Now we’re ready to review your assets and decide what changes in ownership or beneficiary designations should be made to coordinate your assets with your new estate planning.  We prepare a detailed spreadsheet listing your assets and your decisions on what is to be done and who is to do it.  Our team works with your other advisors and the firms where you have accounts to make sure all the “i’s” are dotted and the “t’s” crossed.

The Solution Review

Generally, at the end of the quarter we schedule The Solution Review.  By then you’ll have had a chance to think more about your planning and to talk to others.  Perhaps there have been some changes in your circumstances.  We go over your questions, make any changes to the plan that you wish, make sure your assets are titled appropriately.  And make sure you’re totally satisfied with your planning.

This is also a good time to share your planning with your family and those you’ve named to assist.  You may be comfortable sharing the details of your planning and your estate with family members, or you may choose only to share certain aspects of your planning, perhaps not disclosing financial information.  We strongly believe that there is a lot of value in letting people know about your planning now rather than when you’re gone.

The Peace of Mind Protector

Over time your family circumstances will change.  Your finances will change.  Your health.  And we know that the laws will change, including the tax laws.  To make sure your estate plan works the way you want it to, you must periodically review and update it.  Our Peace of Mind Protector is a unique subscription-based program to maintain and improve your planning through yearly reviews and necessary updates.


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