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Enhanced Estate Planning Process

Lara Sass & Associates, PLLC is proud to offer our enhanced estate planning process using a holistic and highly customized approach for all estate planning clients.  Our process embodies our ongoing commitment to serve as trusted advisors to our clients and to deliver the highest level of service and value. 

INTAKE

2

THE DESIGN MEETING

3

IMPLEMENTATION

4

EXECUTION

5

MAINTENANCE

1

1. INTAKE

The first step for clients needing estate planning services is to complete our estate planning questionnaire (often performed by a client’s financial advisor) so that we have a comprehensive understanding of the client’s family and financial information.  Once we have received the completed questionnaire, we will reach out to the client to schedule the Design Meeting (discussed below).  

 

If a client would prefer an initial consultation prior to completion of the estate planning questionnaire, we would be happy to offer that.

2. THE DESIGN MEETING

The Design Meeting constitutes a combination of our review, assessment and recommendations.  Specifically, in anticipation of the Design Meeting, we will perform a comprehensive review and analysis of any existing estate planning documents a client may have.  The results of this analysis will be presented to the client during the Design Meeting, along with any proposed changes to improve the plan.  The Design Meeting is dedicated to discussing a client's objectives and customizing a comprehensive estate plan that will address estate, tax, asset protection, legacy and charitable, business succession, and prenuptial/postnuptial planning needs.  We will clearly explain the specific strategies that we recommend based on the client’s objectives, often using flowcharts for better understanding.  There is a flat fee for the Design Meeting of either $2,500 or $7,500, depending on the level of sophistication and customized planning required. 

 

The Design Meeting will address all of the following planning needs:

 

  • Estate Planning – We will design an estate plan that will effectively and efficiently transfer a client’s assets to his or her chosen beneficiaries, keep family affairs private, avoid probate, and ensure that the family’s wealth is properly managed through the generations.

 

Basic estate planning documents include:

  • Revocable Trust and/or a Will (including trusts for descendants, QTIP marital deduction trusts, and credit shelter trusts for estate tax planning purposes)

  • Financial Power of Attorney

  • Advance Directive for Healthcare

  • Living Will

 

More advanced estate planning techniques include:

  • Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILITs)

  • Gift trusts for spouse, children and/or grandchildren (Crummey trusts and 2503(c) trusts)

  • Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts (IDGTs)

  • Nongrantor Trusts for QSBS and other planning purposes

  • Dynasty Trusts for the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemption

  • Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs)

  • Spousal Limited Access Trusts (SLATs)

  • Special Power of Appointment Trusts (SPATs)

  • Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (QPRTs)

  • Charitable Lead and Charitable Remainder Trusts (CLTs and CRTs)

  • Domestic Asset Protection Trusts (DAPTs)

  • Family Limited Partnerships (FLPs)

  • Family Limited Liability Company (FLLCs)

  • QTIP and QDOT Marital Trusts

  • Retirement Plan Trusts

  • Special Needs Trusts (SNTs)

  • Private Foundations

  • Intra-Family Loans

 

  • Tax Planning – We will recommend advanced tax planning techniques to substantially reduce or eliminate a client’s income, gift, estate and generation-skipping transfer taxes, as well as capital gains upon the sale of a business or other asset.  We will introduce the client to and manage outside advisors to the extent needed to address goals outside of our area of expertise.

  • Asset Protection Planning – We will review a client’s assets and activities and implement an appropriate plan to protect against creditors, divorcing spouses, predators and unnecessary taxes.

  • Legacy and Charitable Planning – We will recommend charitable giving strategies to create a family legacy; perpetuate the family’s purposes, passions and favored causes; and build stewardship for future generations.

  • Business Succession Planning – We will help implement a plan to maximize the value of a client’s business; determine the best option with respect to succession of the business; and minimize the income and estate taxes consequences inherent in an eventual exit from the business.

  • Prenuptial or Postnuptial Planning – We will prepare prenuptial or postnuptial agreements to allow spouses or prospective spouses to determine the property rights and financial responsibilities of each party during the marriage and establish how the property will be distributed and support obligations upon divorce or death. 

3. IMPLEMENTATION

Once the client approves the final estate plan design, we will provide the client with an engagement letter for review and signature.  We ask that the client provide us with payment of the fixed fee for implementation of the plan at that time. 

 

The fixed fee typically includes drafting of the estate planning documents, a written summary of the documents, and a spreadsheet or flowchart showing how the client's estate will be distributed.  The summary documents and spreadsheet or flowchart are crucial to ensuring the client’s understanding of the plan and can be shared with family members and advisors. 

 

During the implementation phase, there may be ongoing communication with the client and the client’s advisors, which may involve obtaining additional documentation, clarifying goals and information, and discussing options and tradeoffs.  We strongly believe that ongoing communication is an essential element of developing an effective plan and building a life-long, trusted relationship with our clients.

4. EXECUTION

The fixed fee for implementation of the plan also includes a meeting to review the draft documents.  We feel that no client should sign any document without a comprehensive understanding of its contents and the ramifications thereof.  To that end, we will dedicate a significant amount of time to explaining each section of the plan and answering any questions that have arisen in the process, including the use of customized flowcharts and illustrations where helpful.

 

After the review, we will provide the client with finalized, flagged documents for signature, along with detailed signing instructions.

 

Once the documents have been signed, the client will receive an electronic file via his or her secure online client portal account that includes PDFs of the final documents, the written and pictorial summary, and instructions for the funding and administration of any trusts we create.  A client’s documents will always be available for immediate access by them and any authorized advisors and family members from any location on his or her secure portal account. 

5. MAINTENANCE

Finally, once implemented, we will diligently and actively manage our clients’ estate plans to ensure that they continue to both function properly and meet our clients’ objectives, regardless of changes in life and the law.  We keep our clients informed periodically through our electronic newsletter and client emails.  Through these regular touch points, we keep clients updated about changes in the law that might affect them, and routinely remind them to monitor their plans with regard to major life events.  Because we will not craft estate plans that do not work or maximize outcomes, we provide each client with a tailored estate planning maintenance program, for which we apply a fixed annual fee determined by the amount of work required to maintain the plan.  This includes meeting with the trustees, investment advisors and accountants for a trust at least once a year to help ensure the trust is being administered in accordance with the trust instrument and as required by state law.