Getting Started If You Have An Estate Plan That Needs Updating

Little Girl with her Grandmother

We both work with many people who already have existing estate plans, but need to update them. Sometimes an existing plan was written many years ago, and needs a legal update.  More often, though, people come to see us for updates when they've had a major life change and need their estate plan to reflect that change: a new marriage; a divorce; a big move; a new baby; or something has changed with respect to a child doing well (or not).  This is all perfectly fine, and let's face it, completely normal -- no matter how much we wish life would stay the same, it just never does.

If you'd like to work with Barbara, please call our office at 650/327-0888 and make an appointment.  If you'd like to work with Liza, you can call, or make an appointment online.

Here's an outline of Liza's process and fee structure.

If you have an existing plan, you are either going to amend that plan or restate it. An amendment makes sense when you have a small, discrete change (like a new Trustee). A restatement makes sense when you have lots of changes and need to update your trust legally as well. Liza also generally restates your trust if you've worked with a different attorney in the past. A restatement uses the existing trust's name so you don't have to retitle any assets that have already been transferred to the trust. Liza will also review your other existing documents (such as Durable Powers of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directives) to see if they need legal updates as well.

The Process

1. You will provide Liza with copies of your existing documents, either before you meet, or at the first meeting.

2. You will let Liza know what changes you know you want to make to your existing plan, either before you meet, or at the first meeting.

3. You will meet with Liza to discuss your changes.

4. Liza will review your existing documents and suggest any additional legal updates that would make sense, given current law and your current net worth and family situation. (Many clients can simplify documents drafted prior to 2012 because current estate tax exemptions levels mean that more than 99% of all estates will be not subject to the estate tax.)

5. Once you agree on the scope of the project, Liza will ask you to sign an engagement letter and get to work.

Fees

Liza does her best to do all of her restatements on a Flat Fee basis. It makes for transparency, and lets you ask the questions you need to ask to understand the plan. For certain, complex matters, though, when you need her help to draft customized plans for complicated family situations or for sophisticated business assets, she has found that hourly rates are the fairest, and most transparent way to offer excellent service for more complex matters. Liza usually bills amendments on a hourly basis as well. Liza's hourly rate is currently $440/hour. After your first meeting, and before you sign her engagement letter, Liza will discuss the proper pricing for your plan and you will agree, together, on the pricing structure for your updated plan.

How Much Do The Flat Fee Portfolios Cost?
  • The "Peace of Mind" Portfolio is for a single person and costs $3600
  • The "Maximize Your Estate" Portfolio is for a couple and costs $5000 for a basic plan for a married couple with an estate under $6-8 million dollars. This plan works for the majority of my new clients. 
  • The "Customized Flat Fee". For higher net worth estates, for those who want to leave their assets in lifetime trusts for children, for couples with non-citizen spouses, children with special needs, or those with vacation homes that they want to leave in trust, there are additional Flat Fee modules in addition to this base portfolio price. Liza will discuss this at your first meeting and you will not sign an engagement letter until the Flat Fee for your plan is determined and you agree with it.

To get your free copy of Getting Started Packet please fill out the form below.

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