3. The Implementation Phase

Once the necessary estate planning documents have been drafted, you will be sent copies of these proposed documents for your review, often with a letter explaining some of the key provisions and how they relate to the decisions made during the Planning Phase. You will be asked to review these documents and provide comments and corrections, if any.

If you do not understand the documents and how they work to carry out your estate planning goals, you should contact the paralegal assigned to your case to schedule a meeting with the attorney so that she may review them with you in person. We are committed to working with you to fully understand your documents and that you are comfortable with the choices you made during the Planning Phase.

Once you are comfortable that the documents reflect your estate planning goals, you will be ready to sign the documents. Usually the date for signing the documents will have been selected during the Planning Phase. Until the documents are signed, your wishes regarding your estate plan are not "official." This means that if you die or become incapacitated before the documents are signed, you will have wasted the time, effort and cost you incurred in the Planning and Document Preparation phases. Thus, to maximize the value of your efforts, there should only be a short delay between the Document Preparation Phase and the Implementation Phase.

Usually, the Implementation Phase results in all documents signed at one time. Occasionally, it is necessary to divide the signing of your documents into several signing meetings, depending upon the complexity of your estate plan and the urgency of your situation. For example, you may have one meeting to sign your Will, Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney and another meeting to sign change of beneficiary designation forms or to sign deeds to transfer real estate or change of account ownership forms to ensure that the title of your assets or the designation of your retirement account match your estate planning goals.

If the implementation of your estate plan is broken into multiple parts, it is important that all parts are completed to ensure that your chosen plan is ready to carry out your estate planning goals when the time comes. If you stop at the point of signing the legal documents such as the Will, Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney, and if applicable any Trusts drafted, but do not sign the transfer documents; your estate plan may not work as intended.

Next... 4. The Monitoring Phase