“Yeah, hi, I’m just calling to find out how much a will costs here in Michigan?”  As a Grand Rapids, Mi wills and trusts attorney, that is probably the single most common question I get asked when someone calls my office about estate planning.  The right answer . . . “it depends.”  Sure, lawyers get a bad rap for giving that answer, but think about it for a second.  

Do you think all people are the same?  All families?  Do you think everyone’s goals are the same, that they have the same number of children, that those children are “good” or “bad,” or maybe no children at all.  Are they married, single, single and in a committed relationship?  Is it a second marriage, and if so, did they each have children before getting married to each other?  Did they have children after they married each other.

Or, how about goals.  Do they give to charity?  If so, which ones and how much?  What are there values – what drives their daily decisions?  What important stories do they have to share that should be passed down to future generations?  What is their income, expenses, and income tax situation?  Does anyone owe them money?  Do they expect to inherit?  How important is creditor protection to them?

You see, there are MANY different considerations that go into crafting/drafting a comprehensive estate plan that is specific to an individual or family.  And that’s what makes it difficult (virtually impossible) to “quote a fee” over the phone.  As an estate planning lawyer I spend much of my time learning and applying many different laws to client situations.  But even with knowing the law, I have no context in a 10 minute phone call.  We need time to learn from each other – I need to learn about your family and who you are (we call this Whole Family Wealth planning), and you can learn about how the law works (or doesn’t work) for your situation so you can make the best decision for your family.

Oh, sure, there are plenty of attorneys out there that will quote fees right over the phone.  And I’m ok with that – it’s their choice and their approach.  And quite honestly, families that are just looking for a form document to appease their conscience are not a good fit for the way we help families.  But, for those who want to have a plan for their family, who want to actually understand how that plan works and have a vital role in creating it, and who want to create a lasting legacy for their family, we are the ones you should call.  So why not “take the bull by the horns” and call us at 616-827-7596 today!  And if you mention this blog post, we’ll have a special discount for you.

Michael Lichterman is an estate planning and charitable planning attorney who helps families and business owners create a lasting legacy by planning for their Whole Family Wealth™.  This goes beyond merely planning for “stuff” – it’s about who your are and what’s important to you.  He focuses on estate, charitable, and asset protection planning for all generations (“young” and “experienced”), the “sandwich generation” (caring for parents and children), doctors/physicians, nurses, lawyers, dentists, professionals with minor children, family owned businesses, and pet planning.  He enjoys creating life long relationships with his clients centered on their family’s values, insights, stories and experiences.