top of page

frequently asked questions.

  • How long does the estate planning process take?
    Great question! While this can depend on a few things, our general goal is 60 days. This timeline will be affected by factors such as scheduling and your responsiveness. We understand that sometimes you may wish to expedite your planning. This could be for an upcoming vacation, medical procedure, or an unexpected life change. We offer the same high-quality service and estate planning documents, though depending on your timeline we may charge an additional fee for these expedited services.
  • Is the entire process virtual?
    Almost! To save you time, travel, and stress, most of our communications will occur virtually. We'll use phone and video calls, texts, and emails. I’ll even provide you with a secure online client portal that can be used to communicate, exchange and review important documents (24/7 availability), and even sign when appropriate. That said, your estate planning documents may need to be signed in person, and many may need to be notarized. If you're in St. Louis, we will arrange for you to come to our offices, or we can come to you for a fee. Outside the St. Louis area? No sweat. We will provide thorough instructions to help you walk through executing your documents on your own.
  • What are your hours of operation?
    We're open Monday through Thursday, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm CT. We are closed Fridays, weekends, and all federal holidays. It is our goal to respond to all inquiries and correspondence within one business day. Reminder: As a virtual firm, the best way to contact us is either through email, phone, or your secure client portal (once you're a client). In-person appointments must be scheduled in advance and are generally reserved for estate plan executions (i.e., signing your documents). Not a client yet? Send us a message here, or schedule your free virtual consultation.
  • Do you only help women?
    You may have noticed that our website focuses on helping women and empowering them through estate planning. It's true that this is important to us at Emerald Law, but guess what? We help everyone, and we want everyone to feel welcome and included. Yes, women are an important piece of the estate planning puzzle, but they're also connected to everyone around them. They have children, spouses, siblings, parents, and friends. By spreading the word about estate planning and encouraging everyone to have a plan in place, we are making it more visible and accessible to those traditionally excluded from estate planning -- such as women, people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and lower income communities.
  • How much does estate planning cost?
    Estate planning needs are so varied and diverse! It's part of what makes this area of law so exciting, and it allows us to custom create a plan for you. In addition, we'll work together to determine what your needs are, rather than dictating to you (*shudders*). If you'd like to learn more about your options, sign up for a free virtual consultation. Here's what we can share about costs: At Emerald Law, we follow a flat fee model when for our estate planning services. You can learn more about that here. Because our estate plans are comprehensive (they include many pieces that work together to keep you protected), rather than piecemeal, we offer our services in various packages. Generally speaking, our packages range from $1800-$6000, depending on your circumstances, goals, and concerns. We are intentionally not a high-volume law firm. Instead, at Emerald Law we take the time to focus on YOU and provide you with the highest level of service. We want to get to know you, your family, and your plans for the future, and we want to be accessible to you during this process. Estate planning is an investment for your future and that of your family, and it can save your family time, money, confusion, and stress. It's important to us that this investment is accessible for more families. See here for some of our payment options, and financing may even be available.
  • Do I need a whole package? Can I just get the document I need?
    We offer packages because they include multiple estate planning documents for a bundled price--and this gives you a complete plan to protect yourself and your assets. These documents work together to form a cohesive plan to make sure you, your assets, and your loved ones are all protected. If price is a concern, I do offer payment plans. If you think that you may only need one or two documents, though, let's chat! I'm happy to learn more about precisely what you're looking for.
  • Do you handle probate cases or trust administration?
    Typically no, but we are happy to refer you to some trusted attorneys. Send us a message here and we'll get back with you soon!
  • How can I learn more?
    Check out our blog! Have a question that isn't covered here or on the blog? Send me a message, or sign up for a free virtual consultation.
  • Do you provide trust funding services?
    Yes, we do! Just like with estate planning, there’s no one-size-fits-all here, so we offer a wide range of funding support options to fit everyone’s needs. This ranges from a quick phone call to walk through funding steps to full service, done-for-you funding services, and additional support levels in between. We’re happy to provide you with a free, no obligation quote for a few different levels of funding support services. Just contact us here to learn more.
  • What if I choose not to create a plan?
    While this may not be a situation we want to envision, it is important to be aware of what may happen if there are no plans created. The short answer is that your family often must rely on the court to determine how to handle very sensitive and important decisions. This can include your end-of-life healthcare wishes, distributing any assets you own at the time of your death, and even the selection of your children's guardian.
  • Do I need an estate plan?
    I believe everyone needs to have some form of estate plan, though what this looks like is different for everyone. For individuals without children or any large assets, it can be as simple as lining up Powers of Attorney and a Healthcare Directive (also known as a living will), which are important for while you’re still alive. For families with minor children and significant assets, they’ll want to explore other options as well, such as setting up a trust and nominating a guardian. I’m happy to chat through all of this with you!
  • What is probate?
    Probate refers to the process of the court handling affairs for people that cannot handle their own. This isn’t just for after someone dies; probate court also handles issues for minor children (under 18 in Missouri) or incapacitated adults. Unfortunately, probate court proceedings can be costly and time-consuming. While not all estate planning avoids probate, there are ways to get around it, such as through the use of a trust. Learn more about probate basics here.
  • What is an "incapacity plan" and do I need one?
    An incapacity plan is a set of documents to outline your choices in the event that you can no longer make decisions and act on your own behalf. More importantly, though, these documents give someone (whomever you pick!) the legal authority to follow through on those wishes. A complete incapacity plan will include documents for medical care, end-of-life care and decision-making, and financial powers. This is included in any estate planning package, or you can choose to do a standalone incapacity plan. You can learn more about incapacity plans and documents here!
  • Can my estate plan be changed?
    Absolutely! Almost all estate plans and planning documents can be modified, though the process for doing so differs depending on the document. If you have an existing plan that you’d like modified, I’m happy to help. If you’re just wondering about what might happen down the road, we can chat about the necessary process for making changes so you can feel prepared. When should your estate plan be updated? Check out this blog post to learn more.
  • Where should I keep my estate planning documents?
    If you use Emerald Law to prepare your estate plan, you’ll receive a binder with your printed and signed estate plan documents and a secure online portal with electronic copies. Many individuals keep their estate planning documents in their home, often in a water- and fire-proof lockbox. Make sure someone else has the key or combination and knows where to find it. I do not suggest a safe deposit box for most people, as it is not easy for another person to access this in an emergency or in the event that you pass away.
  • Should I tell my family about my estate plans?
    This is a personal decision based on your family dynamic. While I recommend discussing it if you feel comfortable, there are individuals that decide not to for various reasons. At a minimum, it is important to tell someone about where to find your estate plan. It does not have to be a family member or a beneficiary; it can be a neighbor or a friend. But in the event that something happens, your family can’t follow your plan if they can’t find it. Read more here.
  • Can my family challenge my will or trust after I die?
    The simple answer is yes. For this reason, it’s important to talk with your attorney about what challenges you anticipate, and what mechanisms might be available to prevent it. If you feel comfortable, you can also talk with your beneficiaries about your wishes and your estate plan, so that they know what to expect.
  • How do I know what is right for me?
    Estate planning is a complex matter, and no one solution fits every situation. For example, if you have only a few assets and no young children, it may make more sense to have a will than a trust. On the other hand, a blended family will have more unique estate planning needs. To determine what may be the best for you, we’ll have a conversation to figure out the extent of your estate, and, more importantly, your goals.
Gold Icon.png

recent blog posts.

Get the latest blog post sent directly to your inbox. Subscribe to the ELC Newsletter.

Thanks for subscribing!

bottom of page