You may call, email, or stop in to schedule an initial consultation. I offer a free initial two-hour consultation where we get a chance to discuss your current family and employment situation. I ask that you fill out a personal information form that asks questions designed to reduce your family information, professional advisors, real estate and land, cash, investments, vehicles, insurance, and other pertinent information into a single document. This task greatly enhances the efficiency of our initial meeting, and is very useful as a reference for you to keep on record.
During our initial consultation, I will work to find out what is important to you and your family. I want to know what you would like to see happen if you become Incapacitated, and what you want to see happen after you are gone. Once I understand more about your family, your goals and your objectives, then we will strategize regarding how best to use your assets, investments, real estate, and other material holdings to achieve your estate planning goals. My job is to suggest solutions for ensuring that we achieve your goals with the assets you have.
In nearly every case, I will recommend addressing the issue of Living Probate: What happens if I have a stroke or receive a traumatic brain injury and become incapacitated or disabled. I generally suggest we plan for trusted family or friends to be available to assist you in case of incapacity. (Please see the article in the Education Center regarding the time and cost of Guardianship/ Conservatorship proceedings for people who become disabled but who failed to plan for Powers of Attorney, Health Care Directive and HIPAA Authorizations.) We will discuss the tools required to protect against the cost and stress of living probate.
Once we have identified solutions to achieve your goals, you decide if you wish to move forward. No work is done until we all agree on the solutions, and you agree to proceed. On most estate planning cases, I am able to quote a single flat fee that will cover the whole plan. I generally know how much time and effort a given strategy will require. That way there are no surprise costs - you can call me anytime without getting another bill! Generally I required half payment when we agree to proceed, and half when we have signed everything.
Generally, we will schedule a second “design” meeting where you will decide who you want to be your helpers if you become disabled and after you are gone. Once we have designed your plan, I implement that plan. Then we meet for a third time to execute (sign) the documents. This process has proven very successful.
I can meet with you at my office, located at 1411 East College Drive in Marshall. I can also meet at your home or some other location. Often times meeting at the client’s home is easier for clients with mobility issues, and you already have much of your important paperwork right there at the kitchen table -- Wherever you prefer.
My approach to Estate Planning is simple: Put the Family First! Famed professor and author Maya Angelou is alleged to have said:
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I believe this axiom goes to the heart of estate planning. We can earn and accumulate our whole life, but amassing and accumulating assets is not the goal. Our goal is leaving a lasting legacy of love, care and concern to our family and friends. Thus, Estate Planning centers on taking care of our loved ones during our life, even through our incapacity. Estate Planning is engendering peace of mind for ourselves and our family. Estate Planning is about passing our core values onto our children and grandchildren. Estate Planning is about achieving our hopes, dreams, goals and desires during our lifetime and after we are gone. My goal is to ensure that your plan leaves a lasting legacy of love and concern that will serve as an ongoing reminder of you loved, cared, protected and provided for your loved ones, even after you are gone. Simply put: Estate Planning is putting the family first!
I am not a document salesman and I do not push or hard sell anything. I serve as an information resource and a facilitator of important discussions. I seek to educate and to raise awareness within families of the important issues that are shaping our legacy and our kids’ futures. Families do not often openly discuss death, dying, making end-of-life decisions, or caring for loved ones if they required nursing level care. My role is to initiate those discussions between spouses and within families in order to plan for such situations. The difficult part is starting the conversation. The easy part is deciding what we want to do when those circumstances arise. My job is to turn those difficult conversations into successful plans that bring peace of mind and a sense of wellbeing, no matter what the future brings.
I am not a general practice attorney. Estate planning is all I do. This is important when you consider the ever-changing medical assistance rules and the turbulent tax environment. Laws and regulations change over time. Social currents ebb and flow with the changing financial backdrop across the country. Generations differ in status, number, and value systems. The baby-boom generation is quickly elevating the numbers of people entering retirement years, and is boosting the need for retirement planning, nursing home care, and legacy planning. Family dynamics change over time: babies are born, people get married, and nearly 50% get divorced. Remarriages bring mixed family issues into the planning arena. We welcome these changes, fear some of them, but need to be aware that the changes are inevitable. Like death and taxes, change is the only thing we can count on. Our Estate Planning Goals and Objectives need to be flexible and will change to accommodate the nuances of our individual family circumstances over time. As an Estate Planning attorney, I look to the future to make a plan today that will work and evolve with our family and our changing environment over time.