Philosophy of Practice
A person’s philosophy is their set of guidelines and parameters that they place on certain things. Here, you will find out a little about my foundational beliefs and guidelines, and the way I like to work with my clients. I included this section because I want you to know a little about me and who I am. You will find the mission statement and core values of my firm, as well as criteria that sets me apart from other attorneys.
Vision and Mission
The Meredith Law Firm exists to serve others by providing exceptional services in the following areas: comprehensive Estate Planning, Probate, Small Business Formation, and Charitable and nonprofit organizations.
Our mission is three fold:
1. To be authentic Christians and reflect the love and grace of Jesus Christ in all we do;
2. To treat you the way we want to be treated; and
3. To provide quality, customized estate planning solutions that meet the goals and needs individuals and families.
Our Core Values
Integrity is defined as “being consistent in ones actions and values.” Because of my strong Christian faith, I treat all of my clients the way I want to be treated; with honesty and truthfulness. If you do not need a certain document or plan I will not tell you otherwise. I will work with you so we can together determine what is best for your situation and you, the client, will make the ultimate decision.
I approach Estate Planning from the Biblical perspective that what we have is not ours. Rather everything belongs to the Lord and he has entrusted us with it while we are here on earth.
My late Torts Professor told us on the very first day of new student orientation that the “practice of law is an honorable profession. One in which we should serve our clients with unwavering devotion.” I strive to fulfill that high calling.
As an attorney I am held to high ethical standards and I carefully insure that I am well within the law in all that I do. You can find these ethical standards here:
One of the most abused rules that attorneys violate is failing to keep the client reasonably informed of their case or file. I follow the “24 hour” rule. This means I try my best to return all phone calls and email with-in a 24 hour time period.
In addition, I vow to be upfront and honest about my fees. I will not begin work until we have both agreed on a fee and the client has returned to me a signed engagement letter. If at any time during my engagement you have a question about my fee, please let me know and I will provide you with a statement detailing my work and fees earned up to that point.
Commitment is a word that I do not take lightly. Throughout my life I have made several commitments; two of which take top priority in my life. First, I am committed to serving my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Second, I am committed to my wife and children to be the best husband and father that I can. Third, I am committed to providing my clients with the service and expertise that they deserve.
I want to earn your trust and respect, and assist you in meeting your needs and goals. The only way I know to do that is to serve you with integrity, professionalism, and commitment.
How Am I Different?
1. I listen to you – The most important thing I can do in our meetings is to listen to you. You are the client, and therefore you are in control. I want to learn about your goals and concerns so I can serve you effectively. Once I know those, I can offer you some strategies to help you obtain your goals and calm your concerns. After all, your estate plan is your plan; not mine.
2. Comprehensive Estate Planning – In my practice, Estate Planning is much more than a “simple Will.” Together, through the Legacy Planning Process, we will develop a plan that takes care of all of your needs, not just a few of them. We will put together the entire puzzle and make sure no pieces are missing. I feel confident that you do not want any holes in your estate plan because this could possibly be the most important planning you ever do and we want to make sure and get it right.
3. Legacy Planning Process – Through this unique process, you are able to see exactly where we are and what is left to do. Personally, when I start a job I like to know what the steps are. So, for you, this 6 step process takes the vague concept of estate planning and puts it into easy to follow steps. [You can read more about here]4. Incorporation of your Family Philosophy Letter – Have you ever wondered why someone did something the way they did? Your Estate Plan may not fully come into play for years, because as long as you are alive and have full capacity you will likely choose to manage things yourself. But, in the event there is a capacity issue, and definitely upon your death, your Estate Plan will be put into action. The Family Philosophy Letter is a letter that you write to your loved ones (children, grandchildren, etc.) This gives you the opportunity to share the “why” behind your plan. You can explain why you designed it the way you did, give some sage advice to your beneficiaries, and generally tell your beneficiaries anything you want to. [See this page for a more complete discussion of a Family Philosophy]5. Trust Based Estate Planning – I treat my clients like family. So, I do not want to do something for my family that I would not do for you. Therefore, most of my clients utilize a Revocable Living Trust (link to blog post on same topic) as the centerpiece of their estate plan. I believe an Estate Plan centered on a Revocable Living Trust offers some great advantages over a plan centered on a Will. (see blog post).
6. Custom Distribution Guidelines For Your Children’s Trusts – I want you to dream about how the inheritance (no matter how big or small) that you pass to your children or other beneficiaries might enhance and impact their lives. Are there certain things you want then to do with what they have been given? For example, do you want them to use it start a new business, travel, provide for unique opportunities for their families, or do they need to use it for charitable and philanthropic endeavors. Whatever it is, this is your chance to give some guidance to your children and let them know your thoughts and desires about how they should use their gifts.
7. Disability Guidelines – One of the central reasons that I prefer a Revocable Trust Based Estate Plan is that we can plan for your possible future incapacity. With these special guidelines, you get to let your trustee know how you want to be cared for, where you want to reside, what types of activities you want to participate in, what you want to wear, how you want to be cared for, and the list goes on. Why should you leave these incredibly important decisions up to someone else, or better yet, why put the burden on your children or spouse? This is your opportunity to clearly communicate what you want if you are ever incapacitated.
8. Emergency Information Card – All of my clients will be given a wallet sized card that electronically stores their emergency contacts, Physician Information, Allergies and medical conditions as well as the following documents: Healthcare Power of Attorney, Living Will (Physician’s Directive), and HIPAA Authorization.
9. Secure Online Access to you All Of Your Legal Documents – Because it is essential that you have 24/7 access to your documents, and to prevent them from being lost somewhere in your house, all of my clients will have secure online access to their documents. You can access your documents with your own username and password through my website. And because your documents are personal to you, the secured online access uses the same encryption technology as the National Security Administration.
10. Legacy Maintenance Plan – The variables we will use to establish you plan are fluid, because your family and goals may change. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to regularly review your plan to make sure that it continues to perfectly accomplish your goals and dreams and take care of your fears and concerns. All of my clients are initially enrolled in the Legacy Maintenance Plan. Thereafter, if you wish to remain enrolled is up to you. We will discuss the continuation fees in our meeting.