JAMES E. OSTENSON
ATTORNEY AND COUNSELOR AT LAW
Five Concourse Parkway, Suite 3000
Atlanta, Georgia 30328
(770) 392-3310
Email:  jim@ostensonlaw.com
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THE ESTATE PLANNING PROCESS

Estate planning is not an obscure process reserved for the very wealthy.  Unless you make plans for yourself and your loved ones in the event of your disability or death, your family will have to follow the plans dictated by state law, regardless of the size of your estate.  Failure to make your own plans almost always ends up costing more than a properly designed estate plan.

The usual procedure for developing an estate plan involves:

(1) Calling (770) 392-3310 to schedule the initial appointment.

(2) Completing a simple "homework assignment" to gather appropriate information and to think through a few key questions.

(3) Meeting with me to get acquainted, provide information, and discuss planning options.  During the next week or two, I draft the documents that you decide are most appropriate for your situation.

(4) Meeting for a second time to review the documents and sign them in front of witnesses.

Each client's situation is unique, so my approach is to help clients think through the appropriate elements of their estate planning.  For some, a will-based plan is appropriate, while others may have circumstances that suggest a revocable living trust.  All estate plans include "ancillary documents" such as a General Durable Power of Attorney for legal and financial matters, and an Advance Directive for Health Care (appointing your health care agents when you are unable to communicate and expressing your wishes about life support).

Some clients have additional needs such as minimizing estate taxes or asset protection.  Such estate planning tools as irrevocable life insurance trusts, charitable trusts and family limited partnerships or limited liability companies might be appropriate additions to their estate plan.

Naturally, everyone is concerned about the cost of estate planning.  Since "one size does not fit all", it is difficult to quote a specific fee before knowing more about your unique situation.  My goal is to keep my fees as reasonable and affordable as possible, but there may be other attorneys who have lower fees because they simply "fill in the blanks" on a form.  I feel that planning for your future and the future of your loved ones involves a more personalized process so that the documents produced are carefully tailored to your needs and the needs of your loved ones.  I can usually quote a "fee range" over the phone and will always quote a firm fee at the end of the planning meeting.