Many Massachusetts homeowners use “life estate” deeds for different reasons. Some use them as a general estate planning tool. Others frequently use them as a way to “keep the nursing home from getting their house.” In this post, we’ll talk…
Family Legal Planning – The Process
We offer a free Family Legal Planning session so that we can learn about your circumstances and estate wishes, and so that you can learn about the critical matters that should be addressed in order to better protect your assets.
The following describes this process.
Step 1 – The Family Legal Planning Session Questionnaire
The first step of our process is to complete the Family Legal Planning Questionnaire so that we can learn about your situation, and also to schedule your Family Legal Planning session with us after the questionnaire has been completed and provided to us.
Step 2 – The Family Legal Planning Session
This session is usually 60-90 minutes long, and entails learning about your situation – general relationships, children, asset distribution goals, and many other aspects.
By the end of this session, we’ll have an idea about the type of estate planning that will be best for you.
Step 3 – The Written Proposal
Based on our meeting with you, we will then prepare a definitive, fixed-cost proposal for your consideration. Please note that we accept credit cards for our fees.
Step 4 – Constructing Your Unique Family Legal Plan
Once we’ve received the signed engagement agreement, we then begin constructing your estate plan, which will be unique to your needs.
Step 5 – Medicaid Planning and the Family Meeting
For clients seeking Medicaid planning, we’ll schedule a “Family Meeting” where we invite the trustee or trustees that you’ve chosen (usually an adult child or children of the couple making the plan) to discuss what the goals and strategies are of their parents, and also discuss their role and obligations as trustee.
Step 6 – The Signing Ceremony
Next, we will schedule a “signing ceremony” at which time you can come to our office, we’ll go over your Family Legal Plan, and you can execute the documents.
Step 7 – Funding the Trust (if a trust is created)
If a trust is created, after the documents are completed, then the next step is “funding the trust.”
This is a key phase of the process. A trust that is not “funded” with the clients’ assets will be useless because they won’t be able to achieve their goals. For example, if it’s a goal to avoid Probate and then assets remain titled in a client’s name and aren’t funded to the trust, then their loved ones will end up having to go to Probate Court and the trust will be useless.
We offer two approaches to trust funding – we can do all the funding for a fee or the client can do the funding with our unlimited guidance. We will usually take care of the recording of any deeds at any Registries of Deeds regardless of the option chosen.
Step 8 – Scanning the Original Documents for You
Thereafter, our Client Services Specialist will scan all originals into our system and onto a disk for you. She will also place all of the originals in an estate planning portfolio. The final payment is then due at this time, as all of our work will be complete – at least for now.
Step 9 – The Tri-Annual Family Legal Check Up
We have a free tri-annual (every 3 years) Family Legal Check Up to see if there have been any life changes that may require amending any trust documents. With Medicaid planning clients, this free check-up is done annually. Here’s where we think the “real value” of working with us comes in. It’s our goal to become your lawyers-for-life. When you have a lawyer that you can call your “family lawyer,” you’ll know that when you’re in any kind of pinch, or you just feel as if you need some legal guidance, we’ll be the first ones you call.
SouthCoast Estate Planning BLOG
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