How We Work

Your Initial Consultation
The first step in your relationship with Schanker & Hochberg is your complimentary initial consultation, during which we will review any Estate Planning work you may already have in place and discuss your objectives and concerns. We will then prepare a “retainer letter” which summarizes our discussion, and serves as a proposal for the work described in the letter.

Summary Letters
After each meeting with us you will receive a letter summarizing the meeting, and re-iterating where you are in the planning process, recapping decisions that have been made, and outlining decisions yet to be made.

The “Plain English” Letter
Upon execution of your planning documents, we will provide you with a concise written explanation -- in plain English without “legalese”-- of exactly what you did. The letter will set forth all documents that were signed and all tax planning that has been accomplished, and will specifically name the various people you have chosen to serve in different capacities.

Annual Review Meetings
Effective Estate Planning reflects your life -- and is therefore a truly dynamic process. Families evolve, with new members joining and others dissociating themselves... net worth changes…tax laws change…chosen fiduciaries may no longer be appropriate.

With each change, additional planning may be necessary. That is why each year, in the anniversary month in which we executed your estate plan, you will receive an invitation/reminder to schedule a meeting with us, to review your plan and discuss how it may be affected by any changes that have occurred since we last met.

Annual review meetings are included in your original retainer agreement, and therefore incur no additional charges.

Asset Re-Titling
Effective Estate Planning includes:

  • The use of Irrevocable Trusts to exclude assets from the taxable estate
  • Gifting strategies that can help minimize the tax impact of highly-appreciating assets inside the taxable estate  by transferring wealth during your lifetime without incurring any gift tax
  • Probate avoidance by titling assets appropriately

Document Placement
Once your plan is in effect, you should be absolutely clear as to what to do with your paperwork. We make sure you are. At the time you sign your documents, we will provide explicit instructions as to where each document should be safely kept. For example, your primary care physician and your health care agent should have immediate access to your Health Care Declaration (a document including a Living Will and health care proxy). Your family should know where to look for the original Last Will and Testament when necessary. Guardianship paperwork should be immediately accessible to those designated for this responsibility. 

In addition to your written letter of instruction, which we carefully review with you, we will also provide you with a customized, laminated wallet card outlining any health care directives. This card includes relevant contact information for your primary and alternate health care agents and your primary physician in case of an emergency.

Your Family Meeting
Sharing estate planning decisions with your family gives you a chance to explain any role they may play in the estate plan, and helps to prevent acrimony among your loved ones when the time comes to settle your estate. We facilitate this important step by giving you the opportunity to invite the appropriate family members to a meeting in which we review any part of the plan you deem to be open for discussion.

The family meeting serves to reassure your loved ones that you have carefully considered everyone’s best interests; it also helps you determine whether family members are willing and prepared should they be chosen to play a fiduciary role in the administration of your estate.

Whether you prefer to meet in our elegantly restored Victorian building in Huntington, or our midtown Manhattan or New Jersey offices, we will strive to make your family meeting as convenient, comfortable and productive as possible. The family meeting is also part of your original retainer agreement, and therefore does not incur additional costs.