Kauai Estate Law, LLLC Protecting your future... and theirs.
Cynthia Hannah-White
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Estate Planning Process
At Kauai Estate Law, LLLC, we approach estate planning as a collaborative process between the client and the attorney. Other professionals, such as accountants, investment advisors and insurance brokers may also be involved, if appropriate. The process involves three stages.

In the first (planning) stage, we will gather information, discuss options for organizing and managing your affairs, and craft a plan that meets your objectives. You will receive an oral or written summary of the plan, including available options and the pros and cons of each.

In the second (drafting/execution) stage, we will create the documents necessary to implement your plan, review them together, and arrange for you to execute (sign) them. We will also go over the additional steps that you need to take to make the plan effective, such as changing beneficiary designations on insurance or retirement benefits, purchasing life insurance, or funding trusts.

When you have taken all of the steps necessary to put your plan in place, you move into the third stage, which is periodic review and adjustment of the plan. Your plan should be reviewed whenever there is a major change in your family situation, such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or death of a close relative, or a change in your financial circumstances (a large gain or loss of assets, or a change in the type of assets you own, such as a major purchase or sale of real estate). Finally, your plan should be reviewed every few years to ensure that it has not been affected by a change in the law.

       What will it cost?

There is no charge for an initial consultation, which provides an opportunity for us to get to know each other, determine whether we will be comfortable working together, and ascertain the complexity and scope of the planning necessary.

After that consultation, we may quote you a flat fee for all of the initial planning work that we will do. That fee is usually $300-500, but can be more if your estate is complex or you are interested in certain asset protection or long-term care planning options. Upon payment of that fee, we will begin to analyze your situation in detail, research and evaluate possible planning options, and engage in further consultations to arrive at the best plan for you. The planning fee includes all telephone calls, meetings, written and e-mail correspondence, planning, research, and in some cases, the preparation of a written plan summary. (If your estate is not complex, no planning fee may be required, and we may be able to quote you a fee for your basic plan at our initial consultation.)

The plan summary (whether written or oral) will set forth the firm's fees for preparation and execution of the necessary documents, and any other work that must be done to effectuate your plan. Whenever possible, fees will be fixed in advance, so that you will know exactly what the costs will be.

If you decide to proceed, a portion of the planning fee may be credited toward further services. The amount credited depends on the amount of work performed in the planning stage.

In the simplest situations, we can usually provide basic planning documents (a simple but carefully drafted will, power of attorney, health care directive and 'living will'), as well as written guidance for your executor and agent, and assistance in naming beneficiaries on your retirement accounts, life insurance and other 'pay on death' accounts, for a total cost of under $800 for an individual, and under $1,300 for a couple. A basic revocable living trust plan (trust(s), pour-over wills, powers of attorney, health care documents, and some funding assistance) often costs in the area of $2,000 for an individual, or $3,000 for a couple.

Fees may be paid by check or credit card.

For some kinds of work, including litigation and trust or estate settlement, it may be necessary to charge on an hourly basis. In that case, you will be told the rate to be charged and an estimate of the hours needed, along with the factors that might increase or decrease the time necessary. As the work progresses, updates will be provided frequently, to avoid surprises and misunderstandings over fees.

Photographs on this page courtesy of John Andrew (l) and Marcin Jochimczyk (r).