We Do Estate Planning Differently
Unlike the transactional or common “one size fits all approach” to estate planning, the Socius Law Firm is committed to forging “lawyer-for-life” relationships with our clients. This is our bedrock approach to estate planning.
With nearly three decades of experience, we have seen the detrimental effects of the traditional, transactional-based estate planning on families all too often. By focusing on document production as opposed to “lawyer for life” relationships, the traditional law firm experience results in an estate plan that won’t actually work for you and your loved ones when it’s really needed.
The Socius Approach vs. the Traditional Experience
Explaining to you how the Socius Law Firm is different when it comes to estate planning requires an understanding of what the “traditional” law firm experience or working with another attorney may be like.
During the traditional experience, you’ll meet with an attorney who will oftentimes make estate planning and the options available to you seem very complicated and confusing. You’ll have a good idea that the attorney is smart and seems to know what he or she is doing, so you’ll nod you head and answer questions, as if you fully understand everything. Because you have procrastinated long enough and want to do the right thing for your family, you’ll have the attorney to prepare estate planning documents for you; you’ll sign the documents; and, your attorney will wish you luck and send you on your way.
Feeling relieved, you’ll take your estate planning documents home, stick them on a shelf or in a drawer, mark estate planning off on your checklist as DONE! and never think about it again.
You may vaguely remember your attorney said something about transferring your assets into the name of a trust, but you have no idea why or whether that was properly done. You might also remember being told to update or change the beneficiaries of your retirement accounts and life insurance, but chances are you forgot to request or complete the correct forms and cover that step.
Several years later, you refinance your house or sell it and buy a new one and forget that you were supposed to let your attorney know that you need to update your estate plan or make sure you kept the title in the name of the trust.
Your children will have grown older, making your guardianship choices outdated. However, you keep forgetting to figure out how to make the change and the last thing you feel like doing is contacting that attorney.
You’ll hear something about a change in the estate tax laws, but you figure you’d surely get a letter in the mail from your attorney if it was something that affected you, so you do not worry about it. Furthermore, you would have to dig through boxes to find your trust documents so you could remember your attorney’s name and find his or her contact information.
All around you, you hear bits and pieces about avoiding probate and protecting assets from nursing homes. That little voice in your head surfaces and says something like, “you probably should revisit your estate plan.” Of course, something always gets in the way and you never get around to it.
Will Your Estate Plan Work When Needed?
It is not until you become incapacitated or pass away and your family finds your estate planning documents you stuck in drawer years ago and never looked at again, that they will realize your plan is so outdated that it has nothing to do with your life, your assets or the current law. They also discover the trust you had prepared was never properly funded while you were alive so the probate process is necessary.
Your family is at a loss. They don’t know where to turn or what to do, so they contact the same attorney you used to prepare the documents, who will be thrilled to charge you to probate all of your assets that never made it into the trust.
Questions Our Clients Often Ask
At the Socius Law Firm, we believe estate planning is a process where you design a blueprint that:
- allows you to control your property when you are alive and well
- enables you to control how your & your loved ones are cared for in the event of incapacity
- allows you to control how your assets are managed, used and passed in the event of your death
- enables you to save every last tax dollar, professional and court cost.
While this is typically accomplished through a set of estate planning documents, it is crucial to keep in mind that estate planning is not only about the documents themselves. It is about making a series of informed decisions and taking a series of thoughtful actions, all of which are designed to ensure that in the event of your incapacity or death, things will transition in the way you would have hoped, with the least disruption possible and with minimal or no intrusion by the court.
Learn more about the Socius Law Firm's unique 6-Step Estate Planning Process.
Both a Will and a Trust are useful estate planning documents, but understanding their differences will help you decide which is right for your particular estate planning objectives and personal circumstances.
Find out why a Will alone may not be the best choice for you and your family by viewing our side-by-side comparison chart.
As the foundation of the modern estate plan, a Revocable Trust helps you control how your assets are managed and used while you are alive and well, if you become incapacitated, and after you die.
A Living Trust enables the coordinated distribution of all of your assets, while maintaining the greatest degree of asset control and flexibility - both during your lifetime and after death.
There are many important benefits of Trusts beyond federal and MA estate tax considerations such as:
- Avoiding probate and ensuring a smooth transition
- Protecting assets
- Planning for incapacity or disability (without Court oversight)
- Controlling distributions to beneficiaries (give what you have…to whom you want, the way you want, when you want)
- Maintaining 100% privacy
We offer four levels of comprehensive estate planning - each highly customized to meet your unique family situation. Plan fees are dependent upon your personal values, goals and objectives.
From starter plans primarily for families with young children and little in the way of financial wealth, to more robust plans for well-established families who want to avoid probate, provide asset protection and eliminate or minimize estate taxes, we offer estate planning levels to meet your needs and objectives. Estate planning fees generally range from $1,200.00 up to $8,500.00 on the high end for an extensive estate plan. We also offer several advanced estate planning options for those who need even more planning.
At the Socius Law Firm, we have established a unique estate planning process where we listen and learn about you, your family and personal circumstances, thoroughly explain the estate planning options available to you and custom design, implement and maintain a comprehensive estate plan that reflects your specific concerns, fears, goals and objectives. Our process is designed to ensure your confidence at each step along the way, from the initial planning meeting through the delivery and implementation of your completed plan and beyond. The ultimate outcome of our estate planning process is to give you peace of mind.
We all like to put off important tasks and wait until the very last minute, this includes estate planning. There is always “something” that would be more fun to spend time doing or money on. However, honestly there are few things that are more important and none that are a better investment for yourself and your family. Take the first step….
Probate is a process whereby the Probate Court supervises the transfer of assets from a person who has passed away to the new lawful owners.
Probate is generally a long, frustrating and expensive process. Much of our practice is devoted to using trusts and other planning tools to help our clients avoid probate altogether. However, for families who did not do probate avoidance planning, we are frequently hired to guide them through the probate process.
If you become mentally incapacitated, you won’t be able to manage your own financial affairs. Many are under the mistaken impression that their spouse or adult children can automatically take over for them in case they become incapacitated. The truth is that for others to be able to manage your finances, they must petition the Probate Court to declare you legally incompetent.
This process can be lengthy, costly and stressful. Even if the court appoints the person you would have chosen, they may have to come back to the Probate Court every year and show how they are spending and investing the money.
If you want your family to be able to immediately take over for you without Probate Court interference, you must designate a person or persons that you trust with the use of a Durable Power of Attorney.
A Health Care Proxy allows you to appoint someone you trust - for example, a family member or close friend to make decisions on your behalf about medical treatment options if you lose the ability to decide for yourself. Without a Health Care Proxy, your loved ones would have to petition the Probate Court for authority to make medical decisions on your behalf.
In addition to a Health Care Proxy, you should also have a Living Will which informs others of your preferred medical treatments such as the use of extraordinary measures should you become permanently unconscious or terminally ill.
At the Socius Law Firm, we have developed an expertise in planning for the well-being and care of children should the unthinkable happen. We call this advanced legal planning — Kids’ Safeguard Planning.
Kids’ Safeguard Planning is based on the premise that a Will alone is simply not enough to protect minor children should both parents die or become incapacitated.
If you are a parent of minor children, your estate plan needs to include Kids’ Safeguard Planning to ensure your children will always be taken care of by the people you want, in the way you want, and never put in a situation you wouldn’t like.