One of the important things to remember about estate planning is that you always want to make sure that your plan is up to date. As our lives change through marriage, children, divorce, aging, it’s important that our estate plan is up to date with the law, our current financial situation and our wishes. We have always strived to help our clients keep their plans up to date through our Three Year Review Process, but we have realized that a more comprehensive approach is best. So, in 2011, we launched our Client Care Program to offer our clients the opportunity to make sure their plans are up to date on an annual basis, to guarantee them more access to Smith Barid attorneys and staff and to offer them cost savings over the life of their plans.
Members of the Client Care Program receive information annually and advice regarding their estate plans with the goal of ensuring their estate plans continue to meet their purpose today and into the future. Nothing in life is static. Laws change. The economy fluctuates. One’s financial and personal circumstances evolve. We will bring the most up-to-date techniques, strategies and advice to the Client Care Program to help our members keep their estate plans working for them.
Using our proactive system, Client Care Program members will enjoy superior results from their plans, not to mention
special services and discounts. We pledge to members of our Client Care Program that we will work with you so you realize the many benefits of this program:
- Confidence that your life’s goals and intentions are being met by your estate plan;
- Certainty that your trusts are funded properly and reflect your current thinking and prevailing laws;
- Assurance that your estate plan is aligned with your present-day financial circumstances and today’s financial environment; and
- Conviction that your healthcare directives and releases are up-to-date, properly distributed and accessible
Client Care Program Elements
Our Client Care Program is an on-going service designed to maintain a comprehensive, effective estate plan for each member. We believe the optimal review and refinement schedule is a three-year cycle.
One Meeting Every Year
Face-to-face meetings are the most effective environment to thoroughly review and refine each member’s estate plan. Every year (sooner if needed), members will receive a communication from Smith Barid to prompt them to schedule a face-to-face meeting with their attorney. During this meeting attention will be given to particular nuances in circumstances, the laws affecting the plan and any recurring or deferred topics of specific concern to a member. If needed, additional meetings will be held to discuss specific refinements or to execute documents.
Quarterly Telephone Conferences
In the case of routine maintenance of the estate plan, annual telephone conferences are sufficient to update each other. In years one and two of the three-year cycle, members will receive 30-minute Quarterly Telephone Conferences with staff to review circumstances and any relevant updates in laws and procedures that may affect the plan.
Any additional meetings or refinements resulting from these calls or meetings will be considered outside the Client Care Program scope of work and will be provided at a twenty percent discount.
During these calls or meetings, the following will be addressed:
- Revisiting concerns from the original planning sessions that remain open from year to year;
- Determining whether all assets are properly funded ( i.e., that each is properly owned (titled) and has appropriate beneficiaries named (designations));
- Discussion of any changes in family, health, investments, insurance, real estate or business assets, personal and family plans, and employment and the impact of these changes on the estate plan, especially as it relates to persons receiving distributions from the estate, gifts from current assets, youths coming of age, the aging and health issues of other loved ones, and the effect of the “Four Ds” (Debt, Disability, Divorce and Dissipation) on any beneficiary or family member.
- Briefing of important changes in laws that affect the estate plan; and
- Recommendation of appropriate estate planning refinements to increase the plan’s ability to meet your needs and goals.
Initial Funding of Your Trust
We will handle the details and drudgery of transferring your assets into your trust for you. We will get documentation from you, prepare transfer documents for the various financial institutions and deeds for real estate, transmit those instructions to the appropriate parties and then follow up to make sure that the transfers are actually completed. We will attempt to obtain written confirmation for each asset, though sometimes financial institutions will only provide verbal verification. After the funding work is completed, we will provide you with a report verifying the transfer of all of your assets and copies of the written confirmations from each financial institution.
DocuBank is the largest, oldest electronic storage and access service for healthcare directives in the nation. DocuBank helps to ensure that medical wishes are known and respected when it counts, around the clock and around the world. Included with the Client Care Program is the annual renewal of membership in DocuBank.
Online Document Storage Through DocuBank
Client Care Program Members will be presented with the opportunity to have their estate planning documents stored in a convenient online repository provided through our relationship with DocuBank.
Advice by email or telephone on funding of new assets between annual conferences will be provided free of charge as part of the Client Care Program. Funding of new or changed assets, including the preparation of necessary documents and the confirmation of completion of funding actions, will be considered outside the Client Care Program scope of work and will be provided at a twenty percent discount.
Telephone Calls and Emails
Members, their advisors and immediate family may contact Smith Barid support staff as needed to ask questions related to the member’s estate plan.
Updates of Essential Legal Documents
Some legal documents can be considered stale due to the length of time since they were signed. Members are entitled to an update of one of each these essential documents annually: Enhanced Durable Power of Attorney, Advance Directive for Healthcare, HIPAA Release. If other essential documents require updating more frequently than what is provided in the Client Care Program, we will consider such service to be outside the Client Care Program scope of work and provide the services at a twenty percent discount.
Change of Fiduciary Appointments
Members are entitled to a change of certain fiduciary appointments (Successor Trustees in a revocable living trust or Executors/Personal Representatives in a will) free of charge for the first document affected by the change, and for a fee of $50 for each subsequ
Copies of any and all executed estate planning documents created for members by Smith Barid may be requested, and will be provided in a reasonable turnaround, at no charge.
Additional Benefits of the Client Care Program
Members are eligible to receive a ten percent reduction in fees for the following services:
- Discounted Fees for Funding Assistance. These services involve the completion of paperwork required for retitling of assets and making correct beneficiary designations.
- Discounted Fees for Refinements and Other Services. For estate planning or other advice or any other legal services for which we charge on an hourly basis.
- Discounted Fees for Estate Administration. When a member’s family chooses Smith Barid to assist with administration of a member’s trust or probate of a member’s estate, a twenty percent reduction in fees will be given.
Estimated Cost Savings
Though we don’t feel that it’s the biggest benefit of the Client Care Program, you can realize significant cost savings as a member of the program. We estimate that over the life of an estate plan (generally about 20 years), that there are certain services you will use over and over and others that you would need on a one time basis. The chart here shows that the average estimated client savings over the typical 20 year lifespan of an estate plan at over $15,000 for a married couple and over $12,000 for a single member.