What is it like working with an estate planning lawyer? (Step 4)

Once your lawyer has produced draft documents to your specifications, the final step is to go in to the estate planning lawyer's office to have all of them signed. Because of the formalities involved, we have a strong preference for having our clients come to our office in Los Angeles so that we can oversee the entire process. Doing so allows us to have one final review with the client and to make any last-minute modifications to the documents before having them executed. It also allows us to make sure that the proper legal procedure is being followed as the documents are being signed.

If Coming to the Office is Not Convenient

On some occasions, where a client is not able to come to our office, we may arrange to visit the client and their home. This allows us to oversee the execution of the documents, but makes it difficult to make any last-minute changes. Additional witnesses may also need to be called to the client's home.

Finally, in instances where a client lives too far from our offices in Los Angeles County, California, we will prepare a detailed memo about how the documents should be signed. 

Post-Meeting Steps

After the meeting to sign the documents, you will be given an overview of the steps to ensure the effectiveness of your estate planning documents. These include:

  1. The lawyer will take care of the process of recording any real property deeds to transfer them to your trust.
  2. If you've created a revocable living trust, this means making sure that you properly re-title your assets in the name of the trust. The lawyer will likely have taken care of this with respect to any real estate that you own, but it is often up to the client to ensure that this is done with respect to financial accounts (the lawyer is often available for guidance).
  3. Ensuring that the beneficiary designations on your life insurance policies and retirement accounts are updated in coordination with your estate planning documents.
  4. Making your family aware of where you keep those estate planning documents in case something happens. However, in our experience, it may not be advisable to share the contents of your estate planning documents, as you may amend them and therefore set false expectations of the beneficiaries you've named in them.

That's pretty much it! After that, you should probably contact your estate planning lawyer every 2-3 years or whenever there's a major life event such as the birth of a new child or the death of a family member. It's also a good idea to contact your estate planning lawyer if there's a substantial change in your net worth.