We create a client-centered experience by using a collaborative approach that is unique among Northwest Iowa probate and trust administration lawyers. By working alongside the professionals you choose, we build a team of individuals who are experts on the many varied issues that arise during a probate or trust administration, enabling you to meet your fiduciary obligations as executor or trustee by delegating the tasks you don't feel comfortable performing.
We use a series of regularly scheduled meetings to keep every probate or trust administration on track. This allows us to communicate with you at regular intervals, but it also provides you with the peace of mind that, even though you're not present at every meeting, we're continuing to work hard with your collaborative team to wrap up the probate or trust administration quickly and efficiently.
How We Charge
Estate Succession Process TM
Our process has three main phases and is built around a total of nine meetings. Because a certain amount of work is necessary to collaborate with your chosen advisors, three of those meetings are "internal" and are attended only by the collaborative team.
The process starts before you even commit to hiring us. From the moment you first contact us, we’re working to help you get organized: our Mutual Interview, Estate Evaluation, and Estate Review (1-3) happen within 3-4 days and before any fees are due.
At the Mutual Interview (1), we'll help you acclimate to what it means to be an executor or trustee and answer your initial questions. At the Estate Evaluation (2), our first "internal" meeting, we evaluate the will and/or trust you provided at the Mutual Interview and prepare summaries of those documents.
When you come back for the Estate Review (3), we'll give you copies of those summaries and review them with you. At the end of the Estate Review, you make the decision whether or not to engage our firm to help with the remainder of the administration and choose the advisors you want on the collaborative team.
Phase Two begins as soon as you engage our firm. After the Estate Review, we'll prepare the documents necessary for you to sign to take control of the estate or trust. You sign those documents at the Confirming Control meeting (4), and we review the next steps for the administration. With your approval, we invite the collaborative team to attend the Confirming Control meeting to get them introduced to your family's unique situation.
The period between Confirming Control (4) and Presenting the Plan (6) is usually the longest because there are statutory time limits that we have to wait for. But, even though you're waiting, our work doesn't stop. We meet with the collaborative team at the Analyze, Test, & Plan meeting (5) - the second internal meeting - to identify any issues that may arise during the administration and determine the best options for addressing them.
With a plan in place, the collaborative team will work together to build a presentation of your options and we'll review that presentation with you at Presenting the Plan (6). You'll decide on issues like collecting and distributing income and when to distribute various property from the estate or trust. We cover everything - from charitable giving to estate tax returns - one item at a time with explanations and advice from the collaborative team wherever needed.
Your probate or trust administration moves into Phase Three at the conclusion of the statutory waiting period. Armed with the decisions you make at Presenting the Plan, the collaborative team will take the necessary steps to implement those decisions.
The Building the Plan meeting (7) is the third internal meeting, and is critical for delegating the various tasks for the administration among the collaborative team members. Working together, the collaborative team will prepare asset transfer documents and receipts, communicate with creditors, keep the trust or estate accounting records up to date, and communicate with the heirs and beneficiaries.
After the plan has been built, only two meetings remain. At the Implementing the Plan meeting (8), the collaborative team will seek your approval and/or signature on the various documents for distributing and closing the estate. Once all the bills have been paid, debts discharged, and assets distributed, you and Ethan will get together one last time at the Complete and Close meeting (9) to tie up any loose ends and close the probate or trust administration.
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