law offices of merwyn j. miller
191 calle Magdalena, suite 270 • encinitas, San Diego County, ca  92024 • 760-436-8832

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Building an Advisory Team

[Our Approach]   [What We Can Do For You]

We welcome the opportunity to work with other financial advisors and find that the "team" approach to estate planning invariably works to the clients' advantage. On many cases we have had the opportunity to work closely with the advisors from various professions including financial planners/consultants, investment advisors, CPA's, and tax advisors. The "team" approach generally works best when each profession has a chance to have input at the planning stage.

Where you are involved in the process as a professional member of the "team," we make sure that you are continually kept informed. Of course, if additional work is needed that is outside our area of expertise and falls into the professional expertise of the other members of the team, we will always refer the client back to the appropriate member. Mr. Miller does not hold any insurance or securities licenses, so any work required in these areas is clearly not within our area of expertise. Additionally, Mr. Miller did earn a Certified Financial Planner designation (1) and holds an M.S. degree in Financial Services (with emphasis in estate planning) from the College for Financial Planning. Furthermore, Mr. Miller is certified as a specialist by the State Bar of California's Board of Legal Specialization. (See Mr. Miller's online resume for further details on his qualifications.) With this background, Mr. Miller understands what you are trying to accomplish with your clients and can coordinate well with you.

Our Approach

Our approach is quite detailed and intensive and is designed to maximize the probability of obtaining an estate plan that will accomplish exactly what the client wants and minimize the chances of mistakes or insufficiently achieving the desired goals (i.e. getting there only half way). Because of this, we will not simply ask the client a few questions over the phone, recommend a Trust, and be able to quote a fee. We need to be able to see the complete picture, first, in order to recommend the correct Trust and configuration. It is rationally the only proper way to do it and that is what our process is designed to accomplish.

Getting Started: We strive to contact you before the first meeting to obtain your input on the client, the situation, and any recommendations that you may have. With the Client's consent, we invite you to attend the initial consultation with the client. If you cannot attend, we will request the clients' permission to discuss the clients' situation with you.

Initial Consultation: The initial meeting is really of the "get to know one another" variety. It usually lasts 30-40 minutes during which time Mr. Miller will obtain background data on the clients, their finances and family, and their concerns and goals. In many cases there is no charge for this meeting but, if this is critical, just give us a call and we can generally let you know whether your client will qualify for the no charge first meeting. At the end of this consultation, Mr. Miller will determine if we can help this client. If so, he will request a follow up meeting.

Follow Up Fact Finding Meeting: At the follow up meeting, Mr. Miller will assist the client in defining and refining their goals, discuss the clients' estate planning options, the advantages and disadvantages of each, and make appropriate recommendations. You are invited to attend this meeting, if you desire.

Design Meeting: After the client has determined which recommendations and options to adopt, Mr. Miller and the client will actually design the Trusts and other documents. (This meeting may be combined with the fact-finding meeting or separate, depending on what is appropriate for the specific situation involved.) At that point Mr. Miller will quote a fee for his services to carry these decisions into effect (i.e. the analysis and drafting of the necessary documentation along with its execution). The fee is generally a flat fee, although certain types of cases are sometimes taken hourly. We typically require a 75% payment of the fee for us to consider ourselves retained with the other 25% at the time the documents are ready for signing. The retainer agreement is put in writing. Again, you are invited to attend this meeting.

Implementation Meeting: The next meeting is generally to execute the documents. This meeting with Mr. Miller involves a thorough review and explanation of each of the documents. If the clients are comfortable, they will sign the documents at that time. If they desire, we will provide them with draft copies to take home and review with a subsequent meeting to execute the documents.

Reporting to Associated Professionals: After the documents are signed, we provide you with a full report of the nature of the documents and what may still be needed to be accomplished on the funding end to carry the plan into fruition.

Further Assistance We Offer: We contact the client approximately 45 days after signing to see if they have any questions and to make sure that they don't feel overwhelmed. We are still here to help them. They'll receive a subscription to our newsletter so that they can keep up to date on what we're doing and the innovative ways we're assisting other people. And if they should have any questions on this or any other matter, you'll be pleased to know that we create a summary of the client's case on our computer. So when they (or you) call, we usually can answer many of the questions right then, not days later when we finally get the file out of storage.

What We Can Do For You

Joint Seminars: Mr. Miller has extensive experience in speaking before groups. He would be pleased to speak to your clients on estate planning topics. These might include anything from basic estate planning to "What Occurs When Someone Dies & Why", to advanced estate planning topics involving charitable, generation skipping, businesses, or litigation protection.

Newsletter: Every two weeks you will receive two different newsletters on estate planning topics: a faxed and an e-mail version. If you would like to receive these newsletters, please call (760-436-8832), fax (815-346-5375) or Email merv@aboutlivingtrusts.com.

We look forward to working with you and your clients. Should you have any questions, please feel free to Email merv@aboutlivingtrusts.com. or phone at 760-436-8832.

* Voluntarily inactivated several years ago in order to avoid any client impression regarding our rendering of investment advice.