Ep. 4: What to Expect at Your Initial Goals & Responsibility Meeting

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In this episode of Repair the Roof, Attorney Ted Gudorf discusses what to expect at your initial goals and responsibility (G&R) meeting. This is the second step in the process after you have completed and submitted the client organizer.

He unpacks the first conversation you will have with a member of our legal team: what questions you are going to be asked, what questions you should be asking, and what documentation you should bring to the meeting.

At the G&R meeting, you will go over two questions: 1) What are your goals?; 2) Who are you interested in putting in charge of your estate? As the meeting draws to a close, you will then be guided in preparing for the next two steps of this seven-step process: the design meeting and, after that, the delivery meeting.

Key Topics:

  • Defining your goals (1:32)
  • Income tax planning as a key component of estate planning (5:18)
  • Multigenerational planning (7:46)
  • Selecting your trustee (9:11)
  • Preparing for the design meeting and the delivery meeting (15:23)


Transcript: Prefer to Read — Click to Open

Hi, this is attorney Ted Gudorf. Welcome to today’s show. This is episode number four. Today we are going to cover the topic. What is a goals and responsibility conversation? Today’s topic will give you insight into what to expect at the initial meeting when you meet with a member of our legal team. What questions are you going to be asked? And what questions should you be asking? And what kind of information should you bring?

So, let’s begin with this notion of a goals and responsibility conversation. This is the second step in the process after you have completed and submitted the client organizer. You know, oftentimes, we have a lot of anxiety when we’re going to meet with our attorney. Hopefully, this little podcast will enable you to have a little bit more confidence and a little greater clarity about what to expect at what we call a G&R meeting. So, when you arrive at our office and meet with our legal team, the first thing that we’re going to want you to tell us is simply, what are your goals? Secondarily, who are you interested in putting in charge? Well, let’s talk about goals. It can be something as simple as I haven’t ever done an estate plan. I don’t have a will. I don’t have a power of attorney. I don’t have a trust, don’t know if I need a trust. But I think it’s high time that I put something together because I’ve realized that none of us are going to get out of this alive. So, I have to have some type of plan. Because I cared deeply about my family. And I want to make sure that I don’t leave a mess behind. Is that your goal? How about this? I prepared my estate plan 30 years ago when my kids were much younger. And a lot of things have changed in my life. Perhaps you got divorced and got remarried, perhaps the children are now adults. Perhaps they’re going through some struggles. The bottom line is it may be that you’re just coming in because you realize that the plan you put together previously is simply outdated.

Perhaps you attended one of our seminars and realized that your will-based plan guaranteed you to go to probate in the event of incapacity or death. And maybe what you’ve realized is that your plans for incapacity or long-term care are woefully inadequate. Perhaps your power of attorney is 20 years old. Perhaps you never did a medical power of attorney. Perhaps you realize that you don’t want your estate to go through a guardianship in the event of incapacity. And furthermore, you’ve ignored how to pay for any long-term care in the event it occurs. And you want to know what our thoughts are about long-term care. Maybe you’ve learned that, at death, your estate could go through probate, and an attorney would have to be hired who may get paid as much as 5% of the value of your estate, and you’re looking for ways to eliminate that cost for your family. Maybe you’re looking for ways to keep your estate private. You know, the probate court makes sure that everything is published because it’s a public process. Maybe for you and your family. You would prefer that things be private; perhaps you simply want to make it easier on those who come behind you so that they don’t have to spend a great deal of time administering your date when you pass away. You know, oftentimes, estates can take up to two years to administer if they’re not done properly. Is that what your goals are, not to leave a mess behind for your loved ones? Maybe it’s a little bit more complicated. Maybe what your real goal is, is trying to figure out how to leave the government as little as possible. That is, you don’t want to pay taxes any more than what you have to.

The good news is in the United States of America, and we have the ability to arrange our affairs in such a way where we pay the least amount of taxes, that’s legal, that’s legitimate. Doing tax planning, whether it be estate tax planning or, these days, income tax planning, is a key component of any estate plan. We sure don’t want to create an estate plan that eliminates any favorable tax laws either while we’re alive or when we pass away. So, tax planning can be extremely important.

Some of our clients come to us with another goal, which is aimed at trying to protect their assets while they’re alive, and well. What does that really mean? Well, most of us are familiar with the fact that we have a lawsuit crisis going on within our country. And a lawsuit is filed every four seconds. It might be a good idea for us to have a conversation. You know, when you come to our office, it really needs to be a conversation. It’s not a lecture. We’re not there to teach you how we build the estate plans. What we’re here to do is to listen to you. We want to know what it is that’s really at the heart of your concerns. Are you concerned that you may get in a car accident or end up in a lawsuit, and they try to take your assets away, and you want to try to find a way to protect your assets in the event of a lawsuit? What about other creditors? Are you concerned about any kind of credit or claim, whether it be the IRS or otherwise?

How about the situation with a nursing home? Have you put together a plan for the nursing home? Or do you want to know what your options are? Do you understand the difference between assisted living or nursing home? Do you understand what the costs are? What are the probabilities? Is there a plan in place? Where do you want to go? In the event you need care? How are we going to pay for it? Who’s going to care for you? Do you have questions like that? A lot of our clients come to our G&R meeting with wanting to figure out the long-term care issue, and we’re able to try to offer up and have a conversation about what some possible solutions are to those issues.

Perhaps you’re interested in making sure that your children are protected during their lifetime. You know, you have the ability, as a part of this estate planning process, to arrange your affairs in a way that you can do what we call multi-generational planning. And you can create access trusts that are beneficiary controlled yet totally protected. In the event, your beneficiaries get divorced, get sued, go bankrupt, become disabled or die. You can secure that your assets that you leave behind for your children go to your grandchildren and no one else. Those are important goals that our clients have articulated to us in the past.

This G&R meeting, at least the first part of it, is going to simply be a conversation. You know, we’ll have a cup of coffee or a bottle of water. We’ll sit in our conference room, and you’ll articulate for us what all of your concerns are, what all of your goals are. And we will ask some open-ended questions so that we can arrive at making sure we understand what you’re really trying to accomplish. Now, in addition to articulating what your goals are, we really want to have a conversation about the responsibility issue. You know, as long as you are Live and well, you’re going to be in charge of your own affairs. What the next step is all about is making sure we identify individuals who are capable, qualified, honest, and somebody who will do the job in the event you’re not able to. And there are two times when that will occur. One, in the event that you become mentally incapacitated, we have to have somebody in line to handle your financial affairs; we’re going to also talk a little bit about your medical affairs. And then, of course, when you pass away, we want to make sure that, first of all, we have somebody designated to handle your funeral and burial arrangements. And then secondarily, we want to make sure that we have somebody who will administer your wishes, through an estate administration process, somebody who can work with our law firm to make sure that your estate is properly administered that is that what you have goes to who you wanted it to go to, and in the way you wanted it, to go to them, and identify how that’s going to happen.

So, the question about who becomes critically important, you know, we’ve written a book that is going to be published soon called selecting your trustee. That book goes into much greater detail than I can in this podcast. But let’s suffice it to say the single most important trait about selecting somebody to handle your financial affairs in the event of your incapacity or death is trying to identify somebody who will get the job done. In other words, you don’t want to hire somebody who is a procrastinator. No, because then it will take forever, and a job will never get done. Do you want to hire a doer? Somebody who will get it done, as I say, who is that person in your world? For many of us, when we pass away, we’re going to designate our spouse to be in that role. But you really have to think about is your spouse capable. To handle everything? Do they need help? Maybe we want to identify more than one person. Maybe we do a co-trusteeship, maybe you’re one of your children should be as a co-trustee with your spouse? Maybe not. Think about that. If your spouse is not around, who are we going to pick? You know, some clients come to me and say, well, I think is pretty simple. We’ll just go from oldest to youngest and not consider their capabilities, their willingness, and their ability to have some bit of transparency with the other kids; I would suggest that just selecting oldest to youngest is not the best approach. Think about what skills they have, what abilities they have, their willingness to do it, and any time constraints that may be placed upon them. Sometimes the kids come to our family meeting where we discuss the plan as a part of Step Seven of a family estate and legacy program process. And when we meet with the kids, they say, Mom, Dad, I’ve got a really busy life. And I’m just too busy to be able to handle this and do a good job. I think he needs to find somebody else. We want to have that conversation. Because picking the right person to be in charge of your estate is critically important. It can make the difference between a plan that works and a plan that does not work.

Now, if you’re in a position where you don’t have, say, a spouse, or you don’t have a family member, you’re comfortable with it. There are other options that you do have available. We talk about it in our book. Let’s suffice it to say that you can always select your attorney to serve as a professional trustee. You can select your CPA; you can select a bank or brokerage firm; you can select what we now call a Trust Company. You do have other professional trustees or corporate trustees that you could have served in this role. Obviously, they’re going to serve in this capacity, and they’re going to charge a fee. But my experience is, by and large, even the most expensive. A professional trustee will not charge more than 2% of the value of your underlying estate in order to administer your estate upon death. And I find that fee for all the work that has to be done to be a fairly reasonable fee.

If you want to talk a little bit about our process, a little bit about the work that needs to be done, you can download our book, a legal guide, what happens when a person dies, from our website. So these are some of the things that we want to talk about, add our goals and responsibility conversation. We want to make sure we understand your goals; we want to make sure we understand who it is that you want to put in charge of your plan in the event of your incapacity or death. Now, at the end of that conversation, we will have a pretty good idea of which of our plans we’re going to recommend to you, and we will then be able to make a recommendation. And then, identify a flat fee, price quote to let you know exactly what it is going to cost in order to put that plan together for you and your family. Pretty straightforward process. Now, at the end of the meeting, assuming that you’ve articulated your goals, you’ve told us a little bit about who you’re thinking about putting in charge. We talked a little bit about price. The next piece is the schedule.

The next two steps of the seven-step process. So, step three is the design meeting. We’re going to give you a little bit of homework at the G&R meeting we’re going to ask you to collect a lot of your documents and either upload them to a secure file after our G%R meeting and before our design meeting, or we’re simply going to have you make copies and bring your documents to our design meeting. At the design meeting is where we’re going to get into the intricate details of your plan. We’re not going to do that at the G%R meeting. No, it’s too important. We need to have a separate meeting called the design meeting where we really work on the problem after the design meeting, and it typically takes me an hour or two to design the plan depending upon the complexity of it.

Then we’ll schedule a delivery meeting where we’re going to sign all the legal documents. Please be prepared at the G&R to have your calendars with you so you can schedule the next two meetings. Typically, we’re looking at scheduling about three weeks apart for each of our meetings. We are busy, we do have a lot of clients coming through. But our goal is to make sure that we complete the estate planning process within the 90-day timeframe that we previously talked about.

So hopefully, this conversation at G&R conversation will be something that will give you some clarity, will give you some, confidence, and being able to move forward. It will enable you to put together an estate plan that will work for you and your family. Obviously, it’s critically important that we start the process by understanding what your goals are. What are you trying to accomplish? Well, I hope you found this helpful. This podcast is called repair the roof. Remember, it is all based upon making sure that the time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining. Well, I hope the sun is shining in your life. Have a great day today. I look forward to seeing you at our meeting.

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