Becoming An Estate Planning Client

Despite what you may have heard, Estate Planning isn’t about documents, it’s about people. Each client, and his or her beneficiaries, have unique and special goals and circumstances. Your Estate Plan should address these goals and circumstances. We would like to assist you in developing and implementing such an Estate Plan.

The Estate Planning Process begins with your decision to protect your beneficiaries and preserve your assets and family values through responsible planning. At its best, estate planning is as useful for the living as it is for your beneficiaries after you are gone.

Procrastinating is the easiest course to take, particularly when you are trying to balance family responsibilities, children’s extracurricular activities, work, etc. However, the decision to procrastinate is also the most difficult to recover from if improper (or no) planning is in place when life’s twists and turns take control.

Over our 40+ years of experience, we have consistently demonstrated the ability to bring leadership and expertise to the Estate Planning Process.

Our Estate Planning Process

Our Estate Planning Process consists of 4 Steps:

STEP ONE: Completion of our Confidential Estate Planning Questionnaire

To be meaningful, we believe that the estate planning process must involve joint investments by both you and us.

What We Ask of You: Please invest the time necessary to complete our confidential Estate Planning Questionnaire (“EPQ”). The completed EPQ will enable us to have a much more effective Initial Meeting, as it provides us with an idea of the nature and extent of your estate, information about the beneficiaries who are important to you, and your goals and concerns. We will review your completed EPQ, and then contact you to schedule a convenient time to meet.

What You Can Expect of Us: We will invest our time to review your completed EPQ, and then to meet with you. The Initial Meeting typically lasts approximately one and a half hours. If you are working together with a spouse or a partner, we ask that both of you attend the Initial Meeting. There is no charge for our review of your EPQ, or for the Initial Meeting.

STEP TWO: Initial Meeting

At the Initial Meeting we will get to know each other. You can teach us about you, your intended beneficiaries, and your goals, desires, and concerns. In turn, we will teach you about estate planning, answer your questions, and make suggestions for you to consider.

We will proceed with your estate plan only when both you and we feel that we will be able to work together effectively to achieve meaningful results.

Once we know what you wish to accomplish, and which options you feel are best for you and your beneficiaries, we will send you a written fee agreement that describes the services we will provide, the total fixed fee that we will charge, and an estimate of any and all additional costs and expenses (such as the fees required to record a Deed) that you will incur.

We will enclose a Flow Chart with our fee agreement. Based upon our Initial Meeting, the Flow Chart will summarize the more important provisions of your overall estate plan, and will graphically demonstrate how your various estate planning documents work together.

Once the fee agreement has been signed, and we have discussed the Flow Chart and any changes you wish to make, we will schedule the Signing Meeting on a convenient date that is 2-3 weeks in the future, and then begin preparation of your estate planning documents.

STEP THREE: Signing Meeting

At the Signing Meeting, we will review with you the various estate planning documents we will have prepared.

At the conclusion of our review, you may sign your estate planning documents if they reflect your wishes. We will provide all required witnesses and notaries.

We will insert copies of your estate planning documents, and the final Flow Chart, into the Estate Planning Notebook you will take home with you.

STEP FOUR: Funding

Funding is an essential part of our Estate Planning Process. Funding involves 2 steps:

  1. the signing and processing of beneficiary designation forms so that the disposition of all of your Death Benefit Assets (such as life insurance policies, annuities, IRAs, and retirement plans) is coordinated with your overall estate plan; and
  2. the signing, processing, and, if necessary, recording, of title transfer documents and Deeds so that the disposition of All Other Assets you own is also coordinated with your overall estate plan.

Prior to the Signing Meeting, we will work with you to make sure we have the necessary information and documentation to prepare the Funding documents and also have them ready at the Signing Meeting.

We look forward to working with you.

Please click here to select the appropriate EPQ to complete and send to us.

Attorney’s Fees for Estate Planning

How much does it cost? That depends upon what “it” actually is. There are as many different kinds of estate plans as there are clients who have specific goals in mind for their respective beneficiaries. As indicated in “Becoming An Estate Plann… Read More

Our Estate Planning Questionnaires

If you have any questions about our Estate Planning Process, please call us. We have two different types of Estate Planning Questionnaires (“EPQs”): Fillable EPQs; and Traditional EPQs Both types of EPQ ask you to supply identical information.… Read More

Meet Our Team

Joseph C. Johnson's Profile Image
Joseph C. Johnson is the founder of Joseph C. Johnson, P.C., and is also a co-founder and Fellow of EPICOR, an estate planning and wealth strategies collaborative. He is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and of the Chicago Estate Plannin… Read More
Patricia L. Smith's Profile Image
Patricia L. Smith joined Joseph C. Johnson, P.C. in 2016. To say that Trish is immersed in all aspects of our practice would be an understatement. She meets with Trust and Estate clients, drafts and implements estate planning documents, opens, admini… Read More
Ann Place's Profile Image
When you call our office, you will most likely first speak with Ann Place. Ann’s workdays are varied and busy. She is our Estate Planning and Real Estate Paralegal, Legal Assistant, Office Manager and Director of First Impressions. Ann is also in c… Read More