Working with Altman & Associates
Estate planning is one of life’s most personal matters. It requires frank conversations on nearly every aspect of life – finances, health, familial relationships and more. Navigating these discussions and the subsequent decisions that follow, requires more than just a mastery of the law. It requires trust. We work hard to earn our clients’ trust by ensuring they feel heard, understood and respected from their very first encounter with us. And we are pleased to work alongside your other trusted advisors to ensure that your estate plan takes into account your other financial considerations.
The Initial Consultation
Initial consultations are offered for one hour at $250. If you choose to retain us, that fee will be applied towards the planning engagement. We know that your time is valuable, and so is ours. This is why we aim to accomplish a lot at our first meeting with you. We listen, ask targeted questions, offer suggestions on how to address your problems, decide how to proceed and, of course, try to answer all of your questions.
Setting Up an Appointment
If you are interested in our estate planning services, please contact us to schedule an appointment. We recommend that new clients complete an estate planning information form in advance of the consultation. These forms will be discussed with you when making an appointment and can be mailed or e-mailed to you, according to your preference. Please make sure to mention your preferred meeting location – Rockville, Columbia, D.C., Tysons Corner or Vienna. (Home appointments can be scheduled for an additional fee.) We will use both e-mail and phone to confirm your appointment in advance.
Please let us know if you or your referral are more comfortable speaking in a language other than English. We have a Spanish interpreter on call and team members who speak Korean, Mandarin Chinese and Farsi.
In the best interest of all of our clients, we have instituted a cancellation policy. Of course, we understand that some scheduling conflicts and emergencies cannot be avoided and we will always do our best to accommodate rescheduling. However, with just a handful of attorneys serving clients at five office locations, no-show and/or last minute cancellations greatly interfere with our ability to service our clients. If you cannot make it to your appointment, we kindly as that you please contact us at least 24 hours in advance to cancel. Missed appointments or appointments cancelled within 24 hours of the appointment will be charged a fee of $100.
While we typically require 24 hours notice prior to cancelling an appointment, in an effort to maintain a healthy environment for our clients and our staff, we offer a one-time waiver of our cancellation fee in the event of illness. We ask that if you are sick (cold, flu, etc.) or have the onset of any symptoms of an illness (fever, persistent coughing, sneezing, etc.), that you please call us to reschedule your appointment. If you arrive for your appointment with symptoms of an illness, you will be asked to reschedule. This is for your well being as well as the health of our employees. While there are some estate matters that can only be addressed in person, if there are any pressing concerns that we can address for you by phone or electronically, we will do our best to do so. Meanwhile, we also want you to know that we take every precaution to maintain a very clean and heathy office for those who do visit. All surfaces are wiped down regularly throughout the day, we keep plenty of hand sanitizer in stock, and our team members work from home if they’re under the weather.
People like certainty in their lives and they don’t like unexpected bills from attorneys. While hourly rates are available, it is our normal practice to quote a flat fee for traditional estate planning. At the first meeting, we will discuss your situation, the nature of the work that needs to done, and give you an estimate of how long that may take. Then we will prepare a fee engagement letter that spells out the exact scope of the planning and the fee.
Some of the factors that determine project fees are: complexity of the project; the amount of time it will take to complete your planning; the level of expertise required; and the level of risk we assume by representing you. If the scope of the work should greatly change, or if you need additional work that was not discussed at the initial meeting, we will discuss and prepare a fee agreement to cover the additional work.
When we act as a fiduciary (such as a trustee, guardian/conservator or personal representative) we may in some cases charge a percentage fee. In that case, our fee will usually be a percentage of the value of the trust or estate we manage. In a few cases (usually involving will and trusts contests) we are willing to discuss setting our fee as a percentage of the recovery for our clients. In these cases, we will not charge fees during the case, but will collect a fee only if our client resolves his case to his or her satisfaction. We are happy to discuss the possibility of contingency fees in individual cases.
We Won’t Walk Away After You Sign Documents
It is our belief that estate planning is a process, not a product. Once your documents have been executed, we don’t usher you out the door. We consider you clients for life. We are available for you today and will be in the future. We try hard to stay in regular contact with you, reviewing your family’s needs whenever a law changes or a new planning strategy affects you. If we’ve done our job, we will continue to serve your family for generations to come.