How We Are Different
It’s a great question and one that you should be asking if you are serious about doing estate planning. To understand how we’re different, you need to understand how “traditional” estate planning works.
So imagine the following: You and your spouse just had your first child. You know you need to do something, so you go to see an estate planning lawyer who charges you to draft a bunch of legal documents. You both sign the documents, take them home, stick them on a shelf or in a drawer, mark estate planning off your checklist as done, feel good and never think about it again. Years will pass by. Your assets will change, your family members will change, the law will definitely change. But your documents will remain in your drawer, untouched. You wonder if you need to update them. But you never saw or heard from your lawyer after that one time. If you call him now and ask, he will charge you again. You ignore the issue. Then, a few more years later, something tragic happens to you, and you die. Your now-adult children search for the documents you signed when they were just kids. Assuming they can even find it, they are horrified to learn that the documents are outdated, that the new house you bought five years ago was never part of your trust, that many of your assets will be seized in probate because they weren’t owned correctly. Your family is at a loss. They don’t know where to turn or what to do. Now they are forced to pay another lawyer – a stranger to your family – in order to help them fix this nightmare.
How do we know all this?
Because too many people come to us with this same story. It happens a lot.
So when we became parents ourselves, we swore it would never happen to us or any of our clients. We made it the cornerstone of our practice to create lifelong relationships with clients and their families, so that you can rest assured knowing that we will take care of your family if something happens.
Unfortunately, the estate planning industry was not designed to serve growing families who experience changes. When changes need to be made, the complaint is that it often feels like starting all over. Additionally, the traditional estate planning model was designed to serve only 70 and 80-year-olds for only what would happen when they should die. It did nothing to serve the needs of families during their lives. As you can read below, this is a huge disservice to those families and can be a recipe for disaster.
Our Firm Prepares You for Life
So here’s how we’re different.
We create lifelong relationships with our clients.
When you sign your estate planning documents with us, that is just the BEGINNING of our relationship, not the end. We stay in touch. We offer to review your plan every 3 years to make sure it’s keeping up with any changes to you, and your family, your assets, and the law. We offer a Client Membership Program for those clients who want even more interaction with us. We keep you informed. As our clients, you automatically become part of our well-known semi-monthly newsletters, which contain invaluable advice about estate planning, asset protection, and wealth creation techniques. Throughout your lives, we will continuously update you on any changes that you need to be made aware of in the laws governing the estate tax.
We will never bill you by the hour.
It’s our experience that the more we communicate, the better for everyone. Charging you to talk to your estate planning attorney is therefore counterproductive. So, we invite you to call us as often as you want, without having to worry about paying some outrageous fee. In fact, we’ve thrown out the time clocks so you never have to be afraid to call with a quick question. Everything we do is billed on a flat-fee basis, agreed to in advance, so there are never any surprises.
You pick your own fees.
That’s right. Our clients choose the level of planning they want and because all of our fees are fixed, it enables our clients to communicate with us throughout their lifetimes. At our initial meeting, you will choose from one of three levels of planning and the fee that works for your family, so there will never be any surprises.
We have a whole team to serve you.
We have a dedicated estate planning team in place to answer your questions and to make the planning process incredibly easy and painless for you and your loved ones. Specifically, we have a full-time “funding coordinator” on staff to ensure that your assets are protected throughout your lifetime and none of your assets will end up going through a long, expensive court process or being lost to the state because they were missed after your death.We also have a full-time “Drafting Coordinator” who keeps up with any changes in the law when it comes to drafting the best plan possible. We have a process for helping you make sure that your assets are titled in the right way, both now and throughout your lifetime.
We have the very best resources available at our fingertips.
We help you get your legal and financial house in order by helping you make smart choices about things like buying insurance, saving for college, and retirement planning. Our network of professionals are folks we’ve worked with in the past, and they know how to get it done right for us, the very first time.
We are big, big believers in Legacy Planning.
When most people think of estate planning, they think of transferring their financial wealth only. That’s a huge mistake. Seriously, ask yourself this. What would happen to your children if you died? What good does a set of documents really provide to them? Sure, they will be grateful that you provided for them financially, but what about emotionally? Who will fill your place in their life when you are gone? Who will give them advice? Who will look out for them and love them the way you did? When we prepare estate plans, we believe in passing over not just your financial wealth, but also your personal wealth, your family stories, your values, the history of you and your parents, and what it took for you all to get to where you were. Your kids — even your grandkids — will want to hear these stories one day. How much do they know about their grandparents’ values? Their most prized personal possessions? How you felt about them? What had you learned during your lifetime that you wanted to pass on to them? We have unique tools in place that guarantee that all these intellectual, spiritual, and human assets will not go lost but will instead be passed down to your future generations — including your values, your stories, your insights, and wisdom. In fact, the wealthiest families capture these assets and pass them along right with their financial wealth. And, that’s part of the reason the rich keep getting richer. Now your family will too.
We continuously educate ourselves.
So that we can best protect your family, we continually train on the latest and best techniques. We attend nationally-recognized educational conferences on advanced planning topics several times throughout the year, and we communicate with you to let you know what we learn when it impacts your family.
We know our stuff.
At Bridge Law LLP, our estate planning team has been consistently recognized for its excellence both in the state and nation. For the past four years in a row, we were awarded by the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys as among the 10 Best Estate Planning firms in California, as measured by client satisfaction. We were also recognized by The National Advocates as among the nation’s top 100 attorneys. We were named as Super Lawyers, an award given by others in the legal community who recognize our commitment to our craft. Our firm prides itself for its perfect rating on AVVO, the nation’s largest legal portal, in the practice of trusts and estate planning. We rank among the highest-rated estate planning firms both in Orange and Los Angeles Counties. In fact, our clients include families living in northern California as well as international citizens residing abroad.
We operate on word-of-mouth referrals and our clients will be the first to tell you how we take a comprehensive, customized approach to planning. An estate plan is one of the most important documents you will put together in your lifetime. People trust us to get it done right so that their plan will work for their loved ones when they need it the most.
And now that you have a better sense of how we do things, it’s your turn. Tell us how we can help you.