Why Choose Our Team

There are many reasons you and your family should choose our team at Lowry & Lowry.  Below is a summary of how our estate and business planning practice is different.  After the summary, you can keep reading for more detail.

  1. Responsive.  We return phone calls promptly, typically the same day.
  2. Plain English.  We explain complex legal terms and concepts in plain English so you can understand.  We use stories and examples that you can remember.
  3. Custom Design.  We don’t do cookie-cutter, fill-in-the-form planning.  We custom design every plan to suit your situation.
  4. Experience. Ed has over 37 years experience in estate planning and estate settlement, and Ben has several years of experience with estate and trust litigation.  We can help you avoid the mistakes that other people make in their planning that can lead to expensive litigation.
  5. Knowledge.  Ed has taught attorneys at national conventions on trust settlement.  He has co-authored a book on trust settlement.  Since joining the firm, Ben has extensively studied the areas of estate planning, estate settlement, and business planning, and continues to improve his own level of knowledge by practicing in these areas with the firm’s clients.
  6. Thorough.  We provide more than just basic estate and business planning documents.  We provide you with extras like:
    1. Complete Documentation.  Based on your situation, we generate very thorough and detailed instructions that cover many situations that other plans don’t cover.
    2. Portfolio Binder.  This holds your documents so they stay organized and can be found when needed.
    3. DocuBank.  This is a service to ensure that your Healthcare Power of Attorney and Living Will are available if you have an accident.
    4. Digital Assets Planning.  We have partnered with sophisticated third-party software developers who can help you and your family plan for your valuable digital assets, such as credit card points, PayPal accounts, photos, emails, and more.
    5. Trust Identification Cards.  This helps with funding if you set up a living trust.
  7. Prompt.  Most plans are completed in about 6 weeks.
  8. Follow-Up.  We can take care of changing titles to assets and beneficiaries for life insurance, annuities and retirement plans so you don’t have to and so it is done correctly.
  9. Review of Plan. We emphasize the importance of reviewing your plan so it will work.  We have an Annual Maintenance Plan to facilitate regular reviews.
  10. Flat Fee Billing.  We generally don’t bill on an hourly basis for estate planning.  Flat fees are quoted in advance and have no hidden charges.
  11. Fixed Settlement Cost.  We disclose the cost of settling your estate.
  12. Planning for Your Total Wealth.  In addition to transferring your financial wealth, we can help you pass on your true legacy.

The Traditional Process

To understand how we are different, we need to describe what the “traditional” experience might be like.

When you see a lawyer about your estate plan, you probably want to get a plan that is simple, straightforward and not too expensive.  The lawyer may accommodate you and prepare a “fill-in-the-form” plan, meaning that the lawyer just gets your names and your children’s names and maybe some other basic information, then fills your names into some computer generated forms, and has you sign the forms.

He is basically saying, “Here’s your form, I’ll see you when you are dead.”  There may be no real discussion about your planning options and the pros and cons of each option.  There may be no proactive planning to avoid the mistakes that many people make in their planning.  There may be no discussion about when you should review your plan.  And finally, there may be no discussion about the cost of settling your plan.

The attorney could be using the estate plan as a loss leader to get estate settlement business.  The preparation of your estate plan is very low (which you like), but the attorney may be trying to get the sizable fees—up to 5% of your estate (which could be a very high fee)—that can be generated by estate settlement work.

You’ll feel good that you’ve taken care of your estate planning.  You’ll put your documents away and not think about it again, especially if the lawyer did not mention the need to regularly review your plan.

The lawyer might mention that you need to name new beneficiaries for your retirement plans, annuities and life insurance to complete your estate plan.  And if you bought a living trust, the lawyer will probably tell you to transfer your assets to your trust.  You’ll have good intentions of taking care of these things, but it’s hard to find the time and figure out what to do.  If you do get around to it, you probably will run into snags.  Like many clients, you may never complete the transfer of assets or changing beneficiaries.

We call this part of the plan “funding”, because you are transferring assets and funding your plan so that it will work.  This can be the most tedious and time-consuming part of the plan and that may be why the lawyer wants you to do it.

Time will go by and your children will grow up and get married and have children and some may even get divorced.  Your savings and retirement plans and the equity in your house will grow.  Tax laws will change.  If your lawyer doesn’t contact you, you won’t think about how all of these changes can affect your plan.

When you become incapacitated or die, your plan may be totally outdated.  Your estate could end up in probate court where there can be disputes about settlement of your estate.  Sadly, like most plans, your plan will not work as you intended.

We know this can happen because we have over 37 years experience in settling estates. We have seen the mistakes that people make in their planning that can cause big headaches and big losses.  You can read more about these mistakes in our Article entitled “13 Biggest Mistakes that people make in their Estate Planning that can cause big headaches and big losses.”  You can call our office to obtain this free report.

Our Process Helps You Avoid the Mistakes

What makes our firm different is that we have a process that enables you to build a plan that will actually work and that addresses the mistakes that people make in their planning.

We understand you are busy so we are geared up to take care of funding your plan.  Allowing our firm to do the funding ensures that the funding gets done and done correctly.

We also don’t do cookie-cutter, fill-in-the-form planning.  We take the time that is necessary to discuss your planning options and the pros and cons of each option.  We help you make good decisions about who should take care of you if you are incapacitated and make sure that you have comprehensive, personally customized instructions for your incapacity.

Likewise, we help you customize instructions in case you pass away.  We discuss possible disputes that can arise and how to minimize those disputes.  We discuss how to protect a spouse’s inheritance in case your surviving spouse remarries or becomes incapacitated.  We discuss how to protect your children’s inheritances in case they don’t know how to handle money, or in case they have a bad marriage, go through a difficult divorce or get sued.

Dealing with these issues takes time and thought.  We create a good “thinking environment” where you can explore these issues, talk about them and develop solutions that fit your family.

We call this process “counseling”.  This process will help you design a plan that can actually work.

Just as importantly, we talk about the importance of reviewing your plan on a regular basis.  Most people don’t review their plan on a regular basis, and that is the primary reason that most plans don’t work.  The plan may have been fine when it was first implemented, but as time goes by, things change and soon the plan no longer makes sense.  We take a proactive approach to reviewing plans and offer an Annual Maintenance Program.

Finally, we talk about the cost of settling your estate and the overall cost of your plan.  We are not doing low fee, discount estate planning to get big settlement fees that we don’t want to talk about.  We will disclose the cost of settling your estate.

Your Phone Calls and Emails are Welcome

We encourage our clients to call our office.  We will get back to you as soon as possible, usually that same day.  We take great pride in being responsive to client’s phone calls.  If you are inquiring about a new matter, there is no charge until we agree on a fee.  If we are working on setting up your plan, the call is part of your flat fee.  If you have completed your plan and you are on the Annual Maintenance Program, you can make a reasonable number of calls to our office for assistance with funding, questions about your plan, or questions about other legal matters.  If you choose not to be on the Annual Maintenance Plan, there may be a charge for your call.

Flat Fee Billing

We bill on a flat fee basis for estate planning.  We don’t use hourly billing because we don’t want you to feel like you can’t call us for assistance or questions.  We also don’t use hourly billing because you want to know what your planning will cost.  Hourly billing encourages delay and extra work, and gives you an uncomfortable feeling because you don’t know what your matter will cost.

The flat fee is agreed to in advance and contains no hidden, extra costs.  There is no charge for your initial consultation so you have no obligation.  If you are not satisfied with the flat fee quote, you do not owe us anything.

Other Legal Matters

Since we have built relationships in the local legal community over the past 37 years, we can usually refer you to another attorney if you have a legal matter that does not relate to your estate or business planning.

Your True Wealth

We believe that your financial wealth is only part of your total wealth.  Your family stories, your heirlooms, your values and your contribution to your community are also a part of your wealth.

Most estate plans only deal with transferring your financial wealth to your children (typically with fill-in-the-form, boilerplate documents that don’t do the job very well).  We can help you capture and pass on your true legacy, whatever that means to you.  How much do you know about your grandparents? If you have some of their things, do you know the story behind it?  Did anyone preserve their stories as part of the family history?  Do you know anything about their values or what they had learned during their lifetime?

Probably not.  Wouldn’t it be a wonderful gift if you could preserve these things for your children, grandchildren and later generations.

We can help you preserve and pass on your total legacy.

What This Costs

Since every family is different, we can’t tell you what your planning will cost until we have a meeting to discuss your situation and your goals.  Once I know what you want to accomplish, I can provide a flat fee quote.  This will be the total fee with no extras or hidden costs.  That gives you peace of mind about how much your planning will cost.  For more information about fees, please see the section entitled “Our Fees”.