Here at the Sydney Law Firm, we pride ourselves in creating flexible and customized Foundational Estate Plans to fit each of our clients’ unique situations—prioritizing what is important to you and your family in the present, while preparing you for what the future brings.
Individuals and families often wonder if they need a Living Trust or Foundational Estate Plan. Not having an estate plan doesn’t mean having no plan at all—upon death, the state of California and the IRS will create one for you, and determine who makes the decisions for your estate and how your assets will be dispersed. Unfortunately, administering an estate through the courts (also known as “probate”) can be expensive, time consuming, and painfully public. Worst of all, their plan will not be geared toward minimizing taxes or looking out for the best interests of you, your heirs, or your legacy.
Unfortunately, an outdated or inadequate plan can often be worse than no plan at all. Not all Living Trusts are created equal, and trusts prepared by non-attorneys, do-it-yourself software, and even bare bones or out-of-date plans prepared by attorneys have left many individuals and families without proper protection, forced to face difficult decisions in times of grief and loss.
All of these factors are what make a current, carefully prepared foundational estate plan so important. As experienced estate planners, The Sydney Law Firm goes well beyond “traditional” approaches, by using the most advanced legal techniques available to help you take full advantage of recent changes in the law and better prepare for the life changes that will impact you and your family.Our Foundational Estate Plan includes:
What to Expect: Estate Planning
Step 1 Introduction:
Whether you reach out to us by phone or email, our dedicated Client Services Director is happy to speak with you and answer any questions you have about our firm, our areas of practice, and the services we offer our clients. If you are looking to schedule a meeting to get started on your Foundational Estate Plan, we provide you with all the information you need to get a sense of our process and our dedication to our clients, and to prepare for the upcoming initial consultation.
Step 2 Initial Consultation:
Prior to the Initial Consultation, we provide you with our firm's Client Personal Information Form to assist you in gathering your family and financial information, focus your thoughts, and prepare yourself to make important decisions regarding your estate plan.
We block out about an hour and a half to two hours for you to sit down with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys. At this meeting, first and foremost, you talk and we listen. What is important to you? What are your priorities? From there, we make our recommendations based on what you've told us.
Step 3 Telephone Review:
Our follow up Phone Review gives us a chance to confirm your information, and discuss any remaining documentation we need. Our firm works collaboratively with clients' accountants and financial professionals to ensure that your planning is cohesive with your financial goals, and that your professional "team" is on board.
We also recognize that Estate Planning means asking hard questions. This call gives you a chance to think over the choices you make and confirm that they are the right decisions for you—or to change and modify your plan to best suit your needs.
Step 4 Presentation & Signing Meeting:
At this point, based on your decisions, your needs, and your priorities, we will have drafted up your estate planning documents. Now it is time for us to present and explain them to you, confirm your decisions—or make changes as appropriate—and have them signed and notarized. At this meeting, you will usually sign the deeds retitling your home, and any other real estate, in the name of your trust. Once this meeting has taken place, you also begin retitling your other assets as well. Congratulations! Your Foundational Estate Plan is now in effect. (Don't worry, you will still be able to make changes to your trust after the signing meeting.)
Step 5 Confirmation:
After the Presentation and Signing Meeting, we take some time to double check your documents, scan them into our digital database, and organize them into a binder for easy access.
At Confirmation, we meet to review the asset retitling process (also known as asset alignment or funding), sign Beneficiary Designation Forms (if applicable), discuss any supplemental planning you might have in mind, and deliver to you your Foundational Estate Plan, containing the Estate Planning Binder, Original Documents, and Superseded Documents (if applicable.)
Once you have your estate plan in hand, you have 6 months to make any changes or revisions as needed at no charge.
Step 6 Trust Reviews, Seminars, & Updates:
As part of our commitment to our clients, we offer complimentary trust reviews to ensure that your estate plan remains up-to-date. Clients should have their plans reviewed every 2-3 years, and our firm may recommend changes as circumstances or changes in the law necessitate—if you do make changes, additional fees would apply depending on the scope of the changes. We also offer a quarterly newsletter, as well as complimentary informational mailings and seminars three to four times a year in order to keep our clients informed about hot topic estate planning issues and changes in the law.
Presentation & Signing:
Reviews, Seminars, & Updates:
If you have a question, a comment, or simply want to have a conversation and explore how we can help, we'd love to hear from you.
The Sydney Law Firm, P.C.
5950 Canoga Ave., Suite 240
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Phone: (818) 594-0500
300 E. Esplanade Dr., Suite 900
Oxnard, CA 93035
Phone: (818) 594-0500
Offices in Oxnard & Santa Monica by appointment only