Understanding the Estate Planning Process In 7 Steps

Estate planning requires making a variety of significant decisions. Throughout this process, you’ll work with an estate planning attorney to determine how your assets should be distributed after you pass away. 

In many cases, navigating the estate planning process will expose you to wills and trusts, two powerful legal documents that can protect your assets. 

Our Estate Planning Process

At Gerhard & Gerhard, our goal is to make the estate planning process, which includes planning wills and trusts, as easy as possible for you. 

Here’s what our estate planning process looks like: 

  1. Initial call or contact message. The process at our office begins with your initial call or with your contact form submitted through our website. When we first speak, we will ask some basic questions, let you know the information we will need, and schedule the initial consultation.
    If you are calling on behalf of a parent, we welcome that initial call since we realize you are trying to find the right lawyer to help with necessary planning. However, before scheduling the meeting, we must speak directly with the person who needs the estate planning documents prepared. A helpful child can call our office for general information, but we will need to speak directly with the client when it is time to schedule.
  2. Initial consultation. At the initial estate planning consultation, we discuss your family, how you wish to distribute your assets, tax matters, beneficiary designations, and who you wish to be in charge. We discuss various options, whether or not you need a trust, and answer questions you may have. We quote the fees for your specific work, then send you an engagement letter so you know what we would be drafting, and what it will cost so there is no surprise. Once you return that to our office with payment, we begin work on your documents.
  3. Draft documents prepared and discussed, then revised as needed. Once hired, we will prepare draft documents and send them to you for review. We then discuss the drafts, and your lawyer will explain various provisions and answer questions you may have. The documents are customized for your situation. If revisions are needed, we make the changes, and then we send you revised drafts for review, normally highlighting the changes for ease of reference.
  4. Beneficiary designations. We provide advice about beneficiary designations on assets such as retirement accounts and life insurance. We can help you complete these forms if you wish for our assistance.
  5. Document signing. When the documents meet with your approval, we schedule a time for you to meet to sign them before two witnesses and a Notary Public. This meeting normally occurs in our office, and we supply the witnesses and Notary Public.
  6. You receive the original documents. Once signed, you receive the original documents for safekeeping, and, if you would like, we will send you .pdf images of your document so you can store them on your computer electronically.
  7. Advice to review in the future. Although we close our file once the documents are signed, the estate planning process should be an ongoing process. You should review your documents from time to time, and call us if things need to be updated. We welcome those check-in calls. 

Get Started With the Estate Planning Process

Navigating estate planning should be completed with the assistance of a qualified estate planning attorney. Contact us for assistance! 

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We've been working with people just like you for years to put the right estate planning documents in place. Let us make the process easy, and help you feel confident about your and your family's future.