I am a big basketball fan. Despite falling on hard times, my favorite NBA team has always been the Phoenix Suns. I have also always rooted for the Philadelphia 76ers. Dr. J. was always a favorite growing up. So watching the 76ers today gives me hope that the Suns can again find a way to compete for championships. Several years ago when Philadelphia was the worst team in basketball, their general manager came up with the slogan “Trust the Process.” “The Process” was his plan to acquire as much talent as possible, leverage that talent for better players, and build the team.
In so many areas of our lives having a solid “process” and following it is the key to sustained success. Estate planning is no different. I like to use the following definition of good estate planning:
Estate planning is a lifetime process whereby:
- I control my property while I am alive and well;
- I take care of myself and my loved ones if I become disabled;
- I give what I want to whom I want, when I want and the way I want; and
- I do so with the lowest possible amount of professional fees and court costs.
A good process will help guide you through the four basic questions of estate planning:
- What do I want to have happen while I/we are alive and able?
- What are the rules if I/we become incapacitated?
- What happens when the first spouse or partner passes away (this level only applies to couples planning together)?
- What happens upon the death of the surviving spouse/partner?
Our process in taking an individual or family through the estate planning process goes like this:
- Intake. We have you complete our brief intake form that will allow us to know a little about you before we meet allowing us to make the meeting more personal to your situation.
- Initial Consultation. This meeting is a chance for you to meet with us and discuss your concerns as well as your goals and objectives.
- Design Meeting. This is the meeting where we actually counsel together to design your individualized plan.
- Document Drafting. After we have designed your plan, the next step is to draft the documents, legal and otherwise, that will be the foundation of your plan.
- Completion and Signing. Once the document drafting has been completed to your satisfaction, there will be a signing meeting where documents are executed and made effective.
- Review. As circumstances change, plans need to be updated to reflect those changes. We offer our clients ongoing maintenance plans so their plans can be kept up to date.
Avoiding any part of the process because you want to jump to the finish line will undermine your efforts to create a good estate plan that meets your goals and objectives. That is why it is important to trust the process. Remember, good planning is not an event – it is a process. I sure hope the Suns have one.