“Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.”
- Richard Cushing
We know, beginning your estate plan is a big step. Therefore, Phase I our process is designed to ensure your confidence in our planning approach each step of the way. Over the course of approximately eight weeks, you will meet with Karin Foster, our owner and founder, for about 5.5 hours to complete and deliver the estate planning paperwork. Additional time will be needed for the completion of the deeds and funding documents as well as any business planning documents. Of course, if more time is needed, then we will gladly accommodate your needs.
How to Get Started on your Estate Planning Journey
Step one: Schedule a Consult with our Attorney
At Treveri Law, education is an important part of the process. If you have never done estate planning before, it is important that you understand why it is important. Please call our office at 505-808-0234 to schedule your first consultation. At this meeting we will discuss the status of your current affairs and what would happen if you did nothing (hint: the government has a plan that you may not like).
We will also review your documents, talk about managing your assets and talk specifics about your unique situation. Unlike some other lawfirms, this meeting entails significant legal review and analysis by an attorney whom you will meet with at the meeting. If you have done estate planning before, we would urge you to bring your documents by the office BEFORE our meeting so that we can use our time wisely.
There is a $350 fee plus New Mexico Gross Receipts tax, for one hour of our time, including review of your documents, paid up front.
If you are a good fit for our firm and you decide to hire our firm to create a comprehensive plan for you, the consulation fee will not be applied to the overall estimated fee for your plan. Note that if you are not a good fit for our firm, or there is a conflict, we will be happy to refer you to one of our New Mexico colleagues.
Important: Complete your paperwork
About 2 days after scheduling your design appointment, you will receive a Treveri Process overview form, a questionnaire and a "homework for clients form." We will ask you to start to complete the questionnaire, gather the documents on the homework form in order to move forward in the process. Please note that we will not review these documents at our initial meeting other than cursorily to determine what type of assets you own. However, this information will be vital once we decide what type of plan you will need to protect your loved ones. We have found that clients who take the time to start to gather their forms at this stage get more organized and gain a better understanding of their personal estates and over all process.
Step two: Your Estate Plan Design call or meeting
The Estate Planning Design meeting is your opportunity to really dig deep into estate planning, asset protection and tax concepts so that we can set up a plan that is best for you, your spouse and your heirs. We will walk you through exactly what your loved ones would have to do if something happened to you and which one of your children, family members or friends would be best suited for each role. We will discuss very personal issues such as your medical conditions, concerns about your finances, the competency, maturity and mental status of your children and the stability of your marriage should a remarriage situation occur. We will also work with you to set up systems to manage your digital, tangible and financial assets so that they will transfer in the way you envision in your plan.
Step three: The Signing Ceremony
Once your plan has been designed to your satisfaction, you will return to our office about 3 weeks later to sign your planning documents. This meeting is generally about 2 hours as we will discuss and review every provision of your documents to make sure you understand how your assets, wealth and legacy are transferred in the way you want them to be transferred. We will also spend a bit of time discussing your intentions and wishes should you become incapacitated and someone needs to make tax, financial, legal, medical, mental health and end-of-life decisions for you. After signing these documents, your family and your assets will be protected in the case of your death or incapacity.
Step four: The Asset Review / Legacy meeting
This is one of the most important meetings of our process because this meeting is when we:
(1) ensure your assets are all owned in the right way which includes finalizing deed paperwork;
(2) Assist you to transfer assets to your trust so that the legal vehicle we created is properly funded;
(3) Deliver your completed Estate Planning portfolio containing your ORIGINAL documents to you along with digital copies and instructions for your family members immediately after an event.
Step five: Followup Annual Teleconference
You will be contacted annually by our office to ask if there have been major life changes to you or your family over the past year. You will receive a 30 minute phone call to check in and discuss any significant changes in your life and changes in the law that will impact your plan. Any changes to your legal documents such as changing the names of your fiduciaries, agents or beneficiaries will be charged at our posted hourly rate for attorney time and staff.
Because your life changes, the law changes and your family changes, it is recommended that your documents are reviewed and possibly updated every three to five years.
Step Seven: When a Triggering event happens
When a catastrophic disability or death event happens, the value of having an estate plan in place is invaluable.
As with Ms. Foster's own father, the sudden diagnosis of brain cancer created a domino effect whereby Nominated Agents were fully responsible for medical, mental health, end-of life decisions as well as managing the finances, real estate, taxes and unexpected legal issues. Because the legal documents were in place, emotional and irrational decisions were avoided, bills were paid, assets were protected and legal challenges from bickering children were avoided. And continued care for Ms. Foster's mother was possible without the involvement of any state courts.
In the event of a death, a complete revision of the estate planning documents for the Survivor is necessary. The initial fees for developing your initial estate plans do not include rewrites of documents for a Surviving spouse. There will be an additional, negotiated fee for drafting and execution of these documents. In addition, several IRS and State tax filings and some protective filings may need to be made which will include appraisals of assets as well as communications with your financial advisors and CPA.
Step Eight: The final disposition
When the death of a Survivor occurs, the formal Administrative period for an estate begins. The nominated Personal Representative will need assistance with the Probate proceedings. The nominated Successor Trustees will need assistance with the final administration of the Trust including a determination of the value of the gross estate and deductions, paying bills, reviewing assets and paying off any final taxes. The transfer of assets to beneficiaries would occur after a full review of beneficiary competency including risks for divorce, bankruptcy and lawsuits. Trustees will be educated on their responsibilities including the requirements that discretionary distributions may only occur pursuant to the standards you have built into your trust. On the other hand, if the beneficiary has no competency, incapacity, divorce, bankruptcy or legal issues, the assets could be transferred outright and the trust terminated.
At Treveri Law, we have helped many families with the Trust Administration and Probate process after the death of a loved one. If you wish to establish Estate planning documents and a clear process for your estate to follow after a triggering event such as disability or your death, please call us today at 505-808-0234 to get started.