Estate Planning at Cohen & WintersMarch 11, 2020 6:51 am 1 Comment
Is your family prepared for the unexpected?
What do Prince, Aretha Franklin, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and James Gandolfini have in common? Aside being some of the most successful artists in the last 50 years, you might be surprised to learn that not one of these artists had an estate plan. Not a will, not a durable power of attorney, not even a note written hastily on a napkin.
The result? Years of hold up in probate court, millions of dollars lost, and heartbroken family members waiting for closure.
Having your affairs in order with Estate Planning is the BEST way to protect your family and loved ones from the stress of the unknown.
Just the words “estate planning” can cause a range of emotions to bubble up in a person—fear, sadness, worry. But what about peace or hope? The reality is, we all will face a need for an estate plan at some point or another (hopefully, after a full, long life). While getting started can be intimidating, ensuring your affairs are in order can help to provide your family and anyone else you leave with security when you pass away.
Five Eye-Opening Statistics That Should Keep You Up at Night
- 55% of Americans die without a will (don’t let this happen to your family!)
- 49% of people don’t believe they have enough money to make estate planning worth it (yet most of them would be surprised about how much time and money good estate planning can save).
- 32% of older Americans have not discussed their end of life planning with a loved one (we can help you put some basic plans in place to make sure your family is prepared if you pass away or your health declines).
- The average cost of probate is 3 to 8 percent of the total assets (good estate planning will avoid or minimize nearly all of this cost).
- It takes an average of 6 months to 2 years for the probate process to be complete (learn the ways to make this go MUCH faster.
Don’t be a statistic!
Check Out Our Exclusive Estate Planning Offer
In 2019, Jon and Andrew marked 20 years of practicing law, and 10 years as partners.
Over the years, our firm has served clients through some of the toughest times of their live. Things like car accidents, arrests, nasty divorces. While serving clients through rough seasons is satisfying, the idea of helping prevent issues before they arise has become more and more appealing.
When Andrew first went into private practice (prior to partnering with Jon), he worked on wills and estates quite a bit. With the addition of a new team member we are delighted to now offer estate planning in Concord, New Hampshire.
About Our Team
We have an incredible team in place. Our talented associate Elroy Sequeira is doing great work in court. Jon is cranking as usual. Our paralegals are awesome. As a firm, we’re in a great position. The good news is we now have extra time to focus on expanding into a new practice area, helping our clients sleep better at night.
He did not take this decision lightly and did his homework.
- The laws change all the time … extra training has included dozens of hours of continuing education, practice tips, and marketing materials to make sure he is completely up-to-date on the latest in New Hampshire estate planning laws.
- Having a good system is critical to making sure nothing falls through the cracks … we invested in a top-shelf software to make the document production smooth and flawless.
- Sadly, many people can’t put their hands on key documents when they need them most …we have on hand a stock supply of some of the most attractive and well-organized binders on the market to keep your documents in a safe, easy-to-find place AND we have in place a unique and proprietary system that will store your key documents in a safe digital space that you or your loved ones can access at any time.
Listen, it’s easy to think estate planning is exclusive to those with fat retirement accounts and large families, but the reality is, if you exist, you have an estate.
Chances are, you’ve probably thought of getting these key documents together, but have been overwhelmed at the idea.:
Estate planning can help you get these important documents created by an experienced, knowledgeable attorney who knows the laws as they change.
- A last will and testament that will distribute your assets fairly and smoothly.
- A power of attorney in the event you are unable to manage your own affairs.
- A “living will” that will tell your doctors what type of end of life care you want.
- For some, a revocable living trust that will help your estate avoid the expense and hassle of probate court.
- A personal property memorandum that will note your wishes for personal and sentimental items.
- A HIPAA release, in case your family needs to speak with your doctors when you can’t.
- Blank space for memorial instructions that you can fill in as you wish, to leave in the same safe place as all of your other documents.
“Can’t I Just Do It Myself?”
Think an online do-it-yourself will work just fine, right? Wrong! A poorly thought out document can cost you (or, even worse, your family after you pass away) a lot of money in the long run.
There are numerous options to get a will done yourself, usually online, for cheap or even free. If you want to go that route, we will happily recommend the best DIY products on the market. But, before you make that decision, please read on …
Doing it yourself is better than having no plan in place. If you have little assets, no children, and are handy with forms and legalese, go ahead and give it a try.
The truth is we are NOT the cheapest option if you just want to get it done for the lowest cost.
But, consider the cost (most likely to your grieving family) of doing it wrong vs. the cost to pay an experienced, compassionate team now to do it right. You can’t put a price on peace of mind.
Would You Put on Your Own Roof?
You could probably figure out how to repair your own roof if you took enough time but you wouldn’t, right? First, your time is more valuable doing something else. And, more importantly, the long-term cost of doing it wrong is MUCH higher than the money you save.
That’s EXACTLY the reason why most people do not try to do their own wills.
Even more to the point, of all the people who try to save a little money by doing it themselves, how many actually get around to doing it (whether it be the roof or the will)? Most people who say they will do it themselves NEVER DO IT AT ALL, leading to disastrous consequences for their family. The good thing about hiring a professional is that you know it’s going to get done – fast and right!
Make a PROMISE to yourself and your family to get this done, and then put it in our hands to make sure you KEEP that promise.
To sum up:
- The truth about spending money on a will or trust now is that it will save money for your family in the long run.
- Estate planning is definitely one area where “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
- The single most common mistake is putting off an estate plan until it is too late.
- Give us one hour of your time for a NO OBLIGATION consultation and we will walk you through all the options available for making an estate plan that works for you and your family.
Remember that statistic we cited earlier? Nearly half of all people (49%) think estate planning doesn’t apply to them. But the reality is this service isn’t just something that the 1% need. So, is estate planning right for you? This about these questions. If you answer “yes” to just one then you need to get in touch with us.
- Are you a baby boomer or senior concerned about making sure your loved ones don’t have to suffer through an expensive, time-consuming probate process?
- Have you been meaning to get your affairs in order but just haven’t found the time?
- Do you have a will that was written a long time ago but you aren’t sure if it’s still valid? Or maybe you aren’t even sure where to find it?
Between all the DIY tools available online and poorly trained “professionals” offering extremely discounted estate plans, there’s no shortage of estate planning mistakes out there. Show us a will created using a basic online form and we’ll show you a slew of costly mistakes.
Here are just some of the mistakes we’ve seen:
- The cost, wait, and stress of assets being unnecessarily held up in the dreaded probate process
- An incompetent or dishonest executor or guardian that steals or wastes lots of the estate’s money
- Naming one sole beneficiary under the incorrect belief they will fairly take care of other family members
- Dividing up assets in a way that exposes them to unnecessary, or premature taxes
- Not properly balancing the needs of a current spouse and children from a prior marriage, creating tension or even court battles between them
- Failing to nominate a guardian or trustee for minor children, causing confusion over who should raise them
- Not naming a power of attorney who can manage your affairs if you become incapacitated
- Giving too much money outright to an irresponsible child, instead of placing it into a trust
After seeing so many of these situations, and hearing from countless clients with similar fears, we decided to get involved and help people avoid them.
The Cohen & Winters’ Estate Planning Process is Smooth and Easy
Getting your documents properly prepared is crucial, but the real difference we provide is a smooth and painless process of getting it done.
Our First Meeting
This first meeting is completely complementary. There’s no commitment. Think of it as a first date that we are taking you on. Additionally, we can meet in person, over the phone, or even via video conference.
- You call our office, or send a message through our website – whichever is easier for you. You will speak to our intake specialist and they will get some basic information (name, spouse’s name if applicable, etc.) and then set you up with a first meeting with an attorney.
- This meeting must be with both you AND YOUR SPOUSE if you are doing your planning together.
- Before the meeting, our intake specialist will ask you for some basic information to put together for the meeting. If you can’t get all the information together, don’t stress and don’t cancel the meeting. Based on what you provide we will go over your options and can then decide what you need to find (if anything) before you sign the documents.
- We will go over your specific situation, your concerns, and your goals. After that, we will give you options for meeting those goals, including the pros and cons of one of the most common questions we get – “Do I need a living trust or just a will?”
What this meeting first meeting will accomplish
- At the conclusion of this meeting, we will reach a decision about what documents are best for you and your family.
- After one hour into this first meeting, if you feel that we haven’t given you a valuable service, or for whatever reason, you decide not to move forward with having documents prepared, then YOU PAY NOTHING! (No questions asked!)
- In fact, if you decide after one hour that you’d be better off trying to save money by doing it yourself online, we will even provide you with what he thinks are the best online services and wish you good luck (The only thing he WON’T do is walk you through how to do it yourself …not that you would ask).
- At the conclusion of the meeting, assuming you agree that using us to prepare your documents is in your best interest, we will collect our expected fee and schedule a session to sign the documents.
- One of the biggest complaints about lawyers is that they don’t get back to you, and they take forever to get your work done. We simply won’t do that! We GUARANTEE that your follow-up meeting to get the documents signed will be within 30 days of the first consultation — rain, sleet, or shine — unless YOUR schedule (not OURS!) calls for a longer delay.
Step Two: Creating the Right Documents
- Next, our enthusiastic team prepares the documents according to the plan we came up with, using our state-the-art software (this software is licensed only to legal professionals, not to the general public …. It is frankly too complicated for just any Tom, Dick or Harry to monkey around with).
- We will have most of the information we need but will probably have some follow-up questions that we can ask you either by phone or email, whichever you prefer.
- No later than one week before the signing session, we will send you drafts of all the papers. This package will include a handy summary that explains what each document does and some of the key provisions (the papers themselves will have a lot of legal jargon … the summary will boil it all down so you know exactly what it all means).
- We will make any changes that you request to make sure the original plan is put into place.
- Our team will remain available to answer any follow up questions before you come back to sign.
Step Three: You Sign the Documents
- The laws of the State of New Hampshire require that you sign the documents in front of live witnesses. So, the final session needs to take place in our office. We want to ensure that you sign the documents the right way for them to be legally binding.
- Because we need two witnesses, this meeting MUST take place during business hours
- At this point we trust you agree with the importance of getting this done and can commit to coming to our office during business hours to sign the documents.
Step Four: Document Presentation and Safekeeping
- Immediately after signing, we will assemble all of the signed documents and present them to you in a beautiful and sturdy binder that looks so nice it is practically impossible to lose.
- You let your loved ones know where the documents are stored … and what law firm helped you prepare them.
- We keep digital copies of everything, indefinitely.
- Even better, AT NO EXTRA CHARGE, we will give you a secure link that gives you, and your loved ones, LIFETIME digital access to your documents. This is a service that many firms charge an annual fee to provide! (If they offer it at all.)
Step Five: We Stay in Touch
- The law can change but our team will stay in touch by providing periodic updates on changes to laws that we want you to be aware of.
- We will remain available at a fair rate to discuss how any changes in the law, or your situation, impacts YOUR estate plan.
An Introductory Offer … with Competitive Pricing
Based on early word-of-mouth, we are expecting high demand for Cohen & Winters estate planning services. While we will most likely eventually promote these services to the public-at-large, the main idea is to help our current client base. That’s why we have elected to give top priority to our current client base.
Any subscriber to the Cohen & Winters monthly newsletter, or their families, are eligible for the following introductory pricing:
Just to note, this pricing is not for complicated situations. These include things like estate tax planning, asset protection planning, or Medicaid planning. We can discuss these kinds of things with you. However, the pricing for that type of planning will vary (although the first consultation is still at no obligation, and we can discuss a budget at that time).
The other thing to note is that for trusts, this pricing does not include any necessary work to put assets into the trust, such as a home or a business interest.
Within 10 DAYS of when you contact us we will schedule your first meeting. We know that many people procrastinate when it comes to estate planning. We are committed to helping you get this done so it’s not weighing in the back of your mind anymore!
Offer Remains Good Until June 15, 2020
We don’t plan on holding these prices forever. We’ve done market research. In our opinion this package pricing is favorable for the expertise, convenience, and service that we provide. Because we are rolling out a new practice area, we want to start out with a bang, which is to your benefit!
So, if you contact us to set up your free consultation, do it before June 15, and reference that you or a family member is a newsletter subscriber, then you are eligible for this introductory pricing.
The Cohen & Winters Estate Planning Guarantee
Lawyers can’t guarantee certain things. There is so much unpredictability in results, especially during a trial. But what we DO guarantee, all of our clients are the following basics.
- Treat you with dignity and courtesy
- Work on your case professionally, meeting all deadlines
- Address all of your reasonable questions
- Get back to you in a timely manner should you have to leave a message
When it comes to our estate planning services we can go further and GUARANTEE that:
- After one hour into the first meeting, you are free to decide whether to pay for our services… with no pressure and no questions asked if you decide not to.
- We will schedule your signing session within 30 days (unless YOU need it to be delayed longer).
- The estate plan we put into place will meet the goals and needs that you express.
- In short, there is NO RISK in speaking with us, and finding out if we can help you put together the estate plan that works for you!
As always, there are two easy ways to contact us to set up the first meeting:
- Call our office at (603) 932-6544 during business hours (or leave a message after hours). Our intake specialist will happily get your basic information and set up the first meeting.
- Fill out this form on our website. Our intake specialist will contact you within one business day, either by phone or email, to set up the meeting.
It’s pain-free, and will put you in the right direction for crossing off what might l be the most important to-do item on your list!
Category: Estate Planning
This post was written by Cohen and Winters