Kauai Estate Law, LLLC Protecting your future... and theirs.
Cynthia Hannah-White
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Estate Planning Process
At Kauai Estate Law, LLLC, we approach estate planning as a collaborative process between the client and the attorney. Other professionals, such as accountants, investment advisors and insurance brokers may also be involved, if appropriate. The process involves three stages.

In the first (planning) stage, we will gather information, discuss options for organizing and managing your affairs, and craft a plan that meets your objectives. You will receive an oral or written summary of the plan, including available options and the pros and cons of each. This stage usually involves two meetings: an initial consultation, and a 'design' meeting. (These may occasionally be combined into one meeting, if time permits and the client is prepared to "jump right in" to providing detailed information at the first meeting, or if it is clear that the client's goals can be satisfied with a very simple plan).

In the second (drafting/execution) stage, we will create the documents necessary to implement your plan, review them together, and arrange for you to execute (sign) them. We will also go over the additional steps that you need to take to make the plan effective, such as changing beneficiary designations on insurance or retirement benefits, purchasing life insurance, or funding trusts. Again, this stage usually involves two meetings: a review meeting, at which we will go over draft documents, and then allow you to take them home for further consideration, and a signing meeting. Rarely, these meetings are combined, if the plan is very simple or only one or two documents are needed. If your plan includes a trust that needs to be funded (i.e., to have assets re-titled in the name of the trust), we will consult with you a month or two after you sign your trust to review the funding process and provide any additional needed services. We - unlike many firms - include assistance with retitling assets and changing beneficiary designations, as part of the flat fee that we quote you for a complete trust plan.

When you have taken all of the steps necessary to put your plan in place, you move into the third stage, which is periodic review and adjustment of the plan. Your plan should be reviewed whenever there is a major change in your family situation, such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or death of a close relative, or a change in your financial circumstances (a large gain or loss of assets, or a change in the type of assets you own, such as a major purchase or sale of real estate). Finally, your plan should be reviewed every few years to ensure that it has not been affected by a change in the law. We have an optional Maintenance Program (for a low annual fee), which can help you to keep up with changes in the law, obtain free periodic consultations to review your plan, and receive discounts on any additional planning work that becomes necessary.

       What will it cost?

There is no charge for an initial consultation, which provides an opportunity for us to get to know each other, determine whether we will be comfortable working together, and ascertain the complexity and scope of the planning necessary.

After that consultation, there are two possible paths, depending on the complexity of your estate and other factors. In most situations, we will be able to quote you a fixed fee for the entire process at the end of your initial consultation. If you agree, we will proceed with the work necessary to put the plan in place. If you do not want to proceed, there is no fee charged.

However, in some more complex situations, we may quote you a flat fee for the initial planning work that we will do to analyze your situation and design an appropriate plan. That fee is usually $300-500, but can be more if your estate is complex or you are interested in certain asset protection or long-term care planning options. Upon payment of the planning fee, we will begin to analyze your situation in detail, research and evaluate possible planning options, and engage in further consultations to arrive at the best plan for you. The planning fee includes all telephone calls, meetings, written and e-mail correspondence, planning, research, and in some cases, the preparation of a written plan summary. The plan summary (whether written or oral) will set forth the firm's fees for preparation and execution of the necessary documents, and any other work that must be done to effectuate your plan. If you decide to proceed, a portion of the planning fee may be credited toward further services. The amount credited depends on the amount of work performed in the planning stage.

Plan Cost: In the simplest situations, we can usually provide basic planning documents (a simple but carefully drafted will, power of attorney, health care directive and 'living will'), and assistance in naming beneficiaries on your retirement accounts, life insurance and other 'pay on death' accounts, for a total cost of about $800 for an individual, or $1,200 for a couple. A basic revocable living trust plan (trust(s), pour-over wills, powers of attorney, health care documents, and some funding assistance) most often costs in the area of $2,300 for an individual, or $3,300 for a couple.

Fees may be paid by cash, check or credit card.







Photographs on this page courtesy of John Andrew (l) and Marcin Jochimczyk (r).