By Getting to Know Us
We know how difficult it can be to find the right attorney. Unless you've been referred by a reliable friend or family member, it can be a challenge.
Knowing what's at stake for our clients, we don't believe anyone should hire an attorney that they aren't completely sure about. Clients should be comfortable knowing that they have made the right choice.
We invite you to get comfortable, by getting to know us.
On this page, we will do our best to introduce ourselves to you. We hope to give you a sense of who we are, how we approach estate planning, and what we believe clients should expect from an estate planning attorney. Along the way, we hope our firm's personality and philosophy will shine through, as well.
If you like what you see here, you can also take a look at our social media presence on Facebook and Instagram.
Feel free to take a look at what some of our past clients have said about us.
If you want to skip all of this, that's okay too. In the end, we believe the best way to know us is to give us a call and ask us some questions. Or better yet, set up an initial consultation.
Our Philosophy is
What Sets Us Apart
When you hire an attorney, you should expect to work with an attorney. This may seem quite obvious until you discover that many estate planning firms rely on an assembly line of paralegals and assistants to do most of the estate planning work.
But who does that assembly line of paralegals and assistants really help? The law firm or the client?
If you've ever played the "telephone game," then you know how easy it is for communication to break down as more links are added to the telephone chain. Simply put, the more links, the more likely that data can be "lost in translation."
When it comes to estate planning, the data matters a great deal. After all, that data can be the important details at the heart of your family dynamics or about your financial fingerprint. It can be the difference between a tax benefit or a tax burden.
Our commitment to our clientele is just a part of what sets us apart from many estate planning firms.
When we created Koza Law Group in 2012, we knew we wanted to create a law firm that was uniquely client-oriented. We adopted an approach centered around mindfulness and connection.
In practical terms, this meant we would never rush the interactions between our attorneys and our estate planning clientele. We would patiently talk through the difficult design choices allowing for our clients to have the time and space needed to discover their underlying planning goals.
We believe this is not something that should be rushed. Nor should it be delegated to a paralegal or law clerk.
These days, we refer to this approach as mindful lawyering.
Keys to Mindful Lawyering:
1) ask the right questions
2) listen to the client
3) ask the right follow-up questions, and listen more
4) explain the issues, as well as the pro's and con's of the various design choices
5) be patient to allow for the client to ask questions, and work with the client to resolve difficult or uncertain design choices
6) make sure we get the details right
7) answer all of our client's questions
8) make sure our client understands the basic framework of their estate plan
9) draft and revise the documents as needed until the client is satisfied
10) make sure the client understands the important of funding the trust
11) provide the client with detailed funding information
and lastly, and perhaps most importantly--
12) be grateful for the opportunity to serve our client
When we practice gratitude, we are rewarded with a "meaning and purpose dividend." But not just for us, but for our clients too.
Estate Planning Can Also Be a Rewarding Experience for the Client
It can empower: Estate planning is proactive. It is not reactive or passive. By acting on your own initiative, you are empowered to act with mindful consideration of your choices. You are not just reacting to the world around you. You are actually creating your own story.
It can bring families closer: On more than one occasion we've seen the process bring married couples closer. Simply put, estate planning is the ultimate act of love. It is an act of thoughtful generosity.
When a couple goes through the estate planning process together, with the right attorney coaching them along the way, it's not uncommon for the process to bring the couple closer together.
It can make us feel better: But perhaps most frequently, we see the proverbial "weight being lifted" off of many of our clients. It tends to happen right after they sign their documents, and when it happens, it's not uncommon to see our clients be caught by surprise as to their newfound sense of relief. Some have mentioned it as a surprising and welcome feeling of "becoming lighter."
Obviously, not everybody feels the same way when they get to the finish line of estate planning. Not all couples feel closer, and not everyone feels "lighter" of mind after they have completed their estate plan.
No matter what they feel when it's over, we know that they have a plan in place that will:
(1) avoid probate wherever avoidable,
(2) provide for their loves ones in the most suitable manner for their unique purposes,
(3) mitigate or altogether avoid gift and estate taxes wherever possible and suitable, and
(4) be legally sound and up-to-date, taking into account the most recent changes to the law.
See below for more information about what you can expect when you retain Koza Law Group.
THE KOZA METHOD
Our client-friendly and secure approach to planning
Let's start with the initial consultation. This is usually a 1 to 2 hour meeting.
We recommend that you complete our intake questionnaire prior to the initial consultation, but this is not required. By doing so, we'll be able to speak talk about your specific needs, not just in general terms. Give us a call and ask us to send you our estate planning intake link, and set up an initial consultation.
Every client has their own story to tell.
We take our time. We don't rush it. We want to understand each client's unique family structure, asset profile, and estate planning-related hopes and fears.
Every client should understand how their estate plan works.
Let's face it, estate planning has its own specialized language with defined terms that are rarely encountered elsewhere in daily life. We never lose sight of this fact.
We welcome the questions and enjoy the teaching aspect. It's actually more enjoyable and fulfilling when our clients understand how things work.
We'll happily provide an easy-to-understand explanation-- a sort-of "crash course" on all of the various estate planning terms and documents. And if you forget or get confused about it later, we welcome you to ask us again. And again, if needed.
Every client should choose for themselves.
We'll explain the pro's and con's of various estate planning options along the way. We don't impose critical estate planning decisions upon our clients, we empower our clients with the necessary information so that they can decide for themselves. We'll be there to coach you along the way.
Every client should be served ethically and professionally.
Joint representation of both spouses is rarely a problem when it comes to estate planning. In nearly every case, the planning process can be navigated without any meaningful conflict of interest between the two spouses. Nevertheless, if we represent two spouses (e.g. joint representation), we will explain the pro's and con's of joint representation at our initial consultation and/or within our engagement agreement. We will explain how we cannot play favorites or keep secrets as between the spouses.
The intake process is a very important step. This is where you provide us with the important information we'll need in order to design and draft your estate planning documents. Our goal is to make this as easy and secure as possible for our clients.
Every client can expect confidentiality and state-of-the-art encryption of electronic data.
As attorneys, we are ethically obligated to maintain your confidential information in a safe and secure manner. We take this very seriously.
Our client communication portal and database provider (e.g., Clio) uses in-transit and at-rest encryption using industry best practices (such as HTTPS and TLS) to ensure that your data is stored and transmitted securely. Their web interfaces are also verified by DigiCert, a trusted certificate authority. They operate in accordance with GDPR legislation, PCI legislation, HIPAA legislation, and SOC2 standards.
For more about our service provider's encryption protocols, go to: https://www.clio.com/security/
Every client should expect to work with an attorney, not a paralegal or assistant.
When you hire an attorney, you should work with an attorney. Seems obvious, but it's common for many firms to delegate most of the tasks in estate planning to non-attorneys.
Our attorneys handle every part of the estate planning process. Even the intake process! We want to make sure we understand you. What better way than to talk to you directly-- without a messenger?
Every client should expect that their time won't be wasted.
Early in the process, you will receive an invitation to our estate planning questionnaire. The link will take you to an encrypted webpage containing our questionnaire. You will notice that some of the information you may have already provided to us may already be inserted into the form to make things easier for you, while other portions will still need your attention.
You can work on the form at your own pace, saving it along the way. We won't rush you (but we may check and see if you need assistance).
Once you complete the form-- press "Submit"-- and that's it. It's that easy.
We will take it from there.
Our goal is to provide the right estate plan for each client's unique needs. We can't do that as effectively if our clients are worrying about fees increasing with each passing minute. By the end of our first meeting (sometimes sooner), you'll receive our fee quote. That quote will be all-inclusive. Once retained, that fee will be locked-in until the services are completed.
Every client should know the cost of their estate plan from the start.
We don't want any client to be surprised by a bill statement. For this reason, we provide a flat-fee quote early on. The quote will cover all legal services necessary to design and draft your estate plan.
Once hired, the fee will be locked-in, no matter how long it takes to complete your estate plan.
We don't "upsell" or attempt to sell our solutions as items on an "a la carte" menu. The fee is all-inclusive as it relates to services, but not out-of-pocket expenses, such as notary, recording, and messenger fees, if needed. Expenses are often between $100 and $200.
Every client should expect as many revisions as necessary to get the documents right without having to pay extra.
After we draft documents, we send them to you for your review. If the documents need to be revised, we will revise them at no additional charge. We will do this until you are satisfied and approve the documents. Once you approve, we'll schedule you for a signing meeting so that you can sign in the presence of a notary and/or witness.
Every estate planning client should feel comfortable asking questions without having to pay extra.
We believe that communication between the attorney and client is fundamental to effective estate planning. This takes time. You should not be rushed into a decision because you are worried about fees increasing by the minute.
Every client should expect to have their personal residence transferred into their newly created living trust without an extra service charge.
Placing your family home into your living trust is a critical step. This requires preparation of a transfer deed so that your home will be properly titled. All of our estate plans include preparation of one deed transfer (California property only).
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KOZA LAW GROUP. All RIGHTS RESERVED.