Explaining to you how we’re different requires an explanation of what the “traditional” experience with a lawyer is like. If you’ve worked with a lawyer to prepare estate planning documents for you in the past, this will sound familiar.
During the traditional experience, you’ll go in and meet with a lawyer who will oftentimes make things seem very complicated and confusing.
You’ll have a good idea that the lawyer is smart and seems to know what they are doing, so you’ll nod and answer questions as if you understand everything. Because you want to do the right thing for your family, you’ll have the lawyer prepare documents for you and you’ll sign the documents, feeling relieved that you’ve got that taken care of.
You’ll take your fancy planning binder home, stick it on a shelf or in a drawer, mark estate planning off on your checklist as DONE and never think about it again.
You might remember your lawyer said something about moving your bank accounts into the trust. So you’ll go to the bank, forget what you were supposed to do, call your lawyer’s office, get a voicemail, have to leave the bank and wait for a call back (which takes several hours at least and sometimes days), and by that time you’ll have gotten busy with other things and never get around to moving that bank account.
A few weeks later, you’ll get a bill in the mail for $67.50 for 15 minutes of your lawyer’s time for answering a couple of questions. You’ll make a mental note – don’t call the lawyer ever again.
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Several years later, you'll refinance your house or sell it and you'll buy a new home and forget that you were supposed to let your lawyer know or make sure you kept the title in the name of your trust.
Your children will get older, making your guardianship choices outdated, but you don’t want to call your lawyer because you know you'll get a bill in the mail two weeks later.
You'll hear something about a change in the tax law but you figure you’d surely get a letter in the mail from your lawyer if it was something that affected you, so you don’t worry about it.
And, you'd have to dig through boxes to find your trust documents so you could remember your lawyer's name and find her contact information. Who has time for that?
It's not until you become incapacitated or die that family finds the binder you stuck up on a shelf several years before and never looked at again.
It is that moment when your family realizes your plan is so outdated that it has nothing to do with your life, your assets or the law.
Your family is at a loss.
They don’t know where to turn or what to do, so they contact the same lawyer you used to prepare the documents, who is as happy as can be to probate your assets, which never made it into the trust.
Because not too long ago, it happened to my husband's family and I swore it would never happen to my clients when I created my own firm. And since then, I have seen countless clients come in to see me who have had this exact experience.
Unfortunately, what I discovered is the estate planning industry was not designed to serve growing families who experience lots of change on their way to success. It was designed to serve 70- and 80-year olds who were preparing for death.
What makes our firm different is that we were built with the needs of growing families in mind. We understand you are BUSY, you are growing, you are planning for a life of prosperity and you value ease, convenience and efficiency.
You are raising children and caring for elderly parents while also working hard to build your own nest egg for a lifetime of support.
You want to know you have made the best decisions for your family and that your plan will work when your loved ones need it most. You want to make sure your minor children would be raised by the people you choose, and never by anyone you wouldn't want, and that your teens and adult children are properly prepared to care for you and what you leave behind. You want to feel confident that you've made the right choices, and handled everything so that you aren't leaving behind a mess, when something happens.
This is our focus as well.
We have developed unique systems to give you the same access to a Personal Family Lawyer® as was previously only available to the super-wealthy so you can have the guidance you need to build and maintain a life of prosperity and wealth. And, with your Personal Family Lawyer®, you can keep your family out of court and out of conflict, which is the greatest risk to the people you love and all you have created.
We can do all of this even if you have already worked with a traditional lawyer or created DIY documents online.
We encourage communication with our clients. In fact, we have thrown out the time clocks so you never have to be afraid to call with a quick question. Everything we do is billed on a flat-fee basis, agreed to in advance, so there are never any surprises.
We have a whole team to serve you. When you call our office to ask your quick question, you won’t have to wait hours or days for a phone call back. You’ll get your question answered, right away. And if you need to schedule a more in-depth legal or strategic call with your Personal Family Lawyer®, a call will be scheduled when you are both available and ready for the call so we can make the very best use of your time and not waste your time by leaving voicemail after voicemail back and forth.
And we ensure the most important details of your planning are followed through on and your plan continues to work throughout your lifetime.
We have a funding coordinator to ensure your assets are owned the right way throughout your lifetime and that none of your assets will end up going through a long, expensive court process or lost to the state department of unclaimed property because they were missed after your death.
We have created unique maintenance programs to keep your plan up-to-date year after year as well as to give you access to our trusted team of legal experts for guidance on any legal or financial matter.
One day you will need a lawyer.
I don’t know why and I don’t know when but when you do, you will be grateful you can call on us and we'll be here to advise you.
Lastly, we know that your financial wealth is only a small part of your overall Family Wealth.
Your "Family Wealth" is made up of your assets that are far more valuable money – and most often lost upon incapacity or death – you intellectual, spiritual and human assets.
These assets are what make you who you are,and sum up what is most important to you.
And a survey of inheritors has revealed that what they care about even more than inheriting your money, is inheriting these intangible assets.
Most estate plans focus only on the transfer of your financial wealth to the next generation. Most people have such great intentions of passing on the intangible, but very few ever get around to it.
It's just not a priority, and then it's too late. How much do you know about your grandparents' values? Their most prized personal possessions? How they felt about you? What they had learned during their lifetime? If you are like most people, you know very little.
That is why we design estate plans that capture and pass these most valuable assets to the people you love.
Not only will we help you pass on your money but also your values, your insights, your stories and your experiences – the truly valuable assets your loved ones care about the most.
I can’t go into all of the details here but we’ll definitely talk about when you come in for your Family Wealth Planning Session.
We look forward to seeing you and caring for your family soon!
P.S. If you think this all sounds expensive, well you’re right and you’re wrong. I can guarantee you that if you qualify to meet with a Personal Family Lawyer®, this planning is substantially less costly than it would be for your family if you become incapacitated or die with a plan that doesn't work or if you don’t have a plan in place at all. I’ve never had a single family who believed in this kind of planning and wanted to put it in place for their loved ones leave my office because they couldn’t afford it. We’ve made creative financing available to our clients because we know that this planning is the foundation for a life of success!
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Law Offices of Laura Croft, Esq. – Timeless Estate Planning
851 N. San Mateo Drive
San Mateo, CA 94401
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