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Estate Planning Library
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Frequently Asked Question
How can I learn more about Kellen Bryant?

Florida Bar Board Certified Elder Law Attorney, Kellen Bryant focuses his law practice on advising and helping caregivers with a particular focus on asset protection and preservation from long-term care costs, creditors, and predators. Kellen Bryant is AV Preeminent® Rated, meaning his attorney peers rated him at the highest level of professional excellence. Kellen Bryant was nominated and selected as a Super Lawyer, Rising Star: 2022.

Kellen Bryant is a partner and co-founder of Berg Bryant Elder Law Group after having spent 7 years building his own practice from scratch. Kellen started his solo practice at 27 years old during the 2009 recession, with no contacts and no prior legal experience in elder law. Kellen has since built a practice that has served over 8,000 families and supports a full office staff to help serve all client needs. Kellen is a Jacksonville, Florida native, having attended Sandalwood High School and his close family still lives in Jacksonville. Like many of his clients, Kellen has been financially on his own since age 18.

Kellen is one of approximately 117 attorneys that the Florida Bar has certified as an expert in elder law. There are approximately 77,000 licensed attorneys in Florida, thus, the board certification makes Kellen uniquely qualified to help caregivers and elderly clients.

Due to the poor economy in 2009, traditional opportunities to work under experienced attorneys were not available to Kellen and he has spent nearly $100,000 (and counting) on seminars and training all over the country in pursuit of trying to become the best elder law attorney for his clients and their caregivers. Of course, lawyers cannot say that they are the best attorney, but the goal is to continually try to be the best.

How can I learn more about Berg Bryant Elder Law Group, PLLC?
Florida Board Certified Elder Law Attorneys R. Kellen Bryant and Carla Trinca-Conley at Berg Bryant Elder Law Group, PLLC assists caregivers and families with asset protection planning for long-term care, wills, trust creation and administration, Special Needs Trusts / SSI Preservation, and administration of probate and guardianship estates in probate court.

Berg Bryant Elder Law Group, PLLC practice primarily assists families living in Duval County (Jacksonville Beach Cities and Baldwin), Nassau County (Fernandina Beach, Callahan, and Amelia Island), St. Johns County (St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra Beach, and St. Johns), and Clay County (Orange Park, Fleming Island, and Green Cove Springs), who want a face-to-face experience.

We use technology, including video conferencing and teleconferencing, to connect with caregivers whose loved ones live in Florida, but the caregiver does not. We use email and secure client portals to work with clients located outside our primary office location.

Our firm was founded on May 1, 2016, by Florida Bar Board Certified Elder Law Attorneys Rebecca L. Berg and R. Kellen Bryant.

Attorney Rebecca L. Berg enjoyed a long career serving Northeast Florida’s caregiver community, being one of the first board-certified elder law attorneys in the nation. Attorney Berg was active in elder law attorney associations both nationwide and statewide, having served in the highest executive capacities in those organizations. During her career, she has served thousands and has been an instrumental mentor to many attorneys in the Northeast Florida legal community, including the current partners of the firm.

Attorney R. Kellen Bryant was basically solo out of law school, and for 7 years, grew his elder law practice from nothing to merging with the most prestigious elder law attorney in his community.

Berg Bryant Elder Law Group seeks to be the go-to law firm for all caregivers in Northeast Florida and improve the lives of the aging and disabled population. Our firm wants Northeast Florida to be known nationwide for taking care of this critical demographic.
What is our general process?
  1. You call in. You’ll be scheduled for a 15-30 minute Free Intake Call to make sure we can help you.
  2. We will send you a form before the call that will take 5-10 minutes for you to complete. These are basic questions and we are not looking for any specific financial information or social security numbers.
  3. The Free Intake Call will discuss questions about process, whether can we help, and legal fees.
  4. The Attorney Consultation will learn further about your situation and desires, drill down to the type of plan you’re looking to implement, quote a fee, review the fee agreement, discuss plan funding, and gather data to begin the next step.
  5. We will draft your documents.
  6. We will meet to review the first draft. We will make revisions before presenting drafts for you to review at home.
  7. We will either repeat the comment/questions, review, and revision process until you’re comfortable signing.
  8. You’ll sign the documents and we discuss responsibilities for funding and administration of the plan.
What can I expect from my Initial Consultation?
An attorney who listens without interrupting and makes sure you fully understand your options before making any decisions! I wouldn’t be doing my job as an attorney otherwise. It’s very important to me that you feel heard and have your questions answered. We’ll also review our process, fees, and overall client experience so you know exactly what you are getting and what the investment will be.
What are the initial steps to get started?
When you are ready to move forward, whether at your Initial Consultation or later, let me know. We’ll send you an engagement letter via Click-to-Sign (or hardcopy) and an invoice via our secure online payment provider. Once these housekeeping items are taken care of, you’ll schedule your next attorney meeting, which is usually a draft review meeting.
What kind of information do you need from me?

Let me start by saying what we do NOT need! At the first meeting, we do NOT need account statements, social security numbers, or tax returns. Beyond that, we simply need answers to questions about your personal estate planning preferences to start the process and further discussion, including:
* Who do you want to be in charge of your assets until your beneficiaries are old enough to manage it themselves
*Who do you want to have what’s left of your assets when you pass
* Who you want making medical and financial decisions for you in the event of your incapacity

Don’t worry if you don’t have the answers to these questions right away! You’ll have plenty of time to think things over throughout the process and we will help you.

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is simply the process of getting legal documents in place so that your chosen individuals are appointed to take care of you, your children, your assets, and your finances in the event of your death or incapacity. The process also involves naming the people you want to inherit your assets when you are gone. An “estate plan” is simply a bundle of all the documents needed to accomplish these objectives.

If you don’t currently have a will or trust, you may think you don’t have an estate plan….but you do. It’s just that the state of NY has written it for you! All states have a default plan for your family and assets in the event of your incapacity or death. That’s the plan you have now. Estate planning is “opting out” of the default plan and putting your own wishes in place.

How much does estate planning cost?
It depends! Estate planning is not one size fits all, so it’s hard for us to give you a quote without knowing more about you. Even if you believe your situation is relatively simple, there are likely nuances you are not considering, which is the value that professionals bring to the table.

We discuss our fees and process at length in the Free Intake Call and the Initial Consultation, after we have counseled you on all your options.

We understand that cost is an important factor in choosing an attorney, and that estate planning is a significant investment for many. It is our goal to be as transparent and fair as possible. We also offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you are not happy with our services before signing your documents, we will make it right, or refund your money.

Finally, we will only recommend planning with us if the amount you would save by doing an estate plan is greater than our fee.
How long does the process take?
Our process is designed to have your estate planning documents signed within 6-8 weeks of your Initial Consultation. It depends in part on your schedule and how long it takes for you to review your draft documents and the number of revision rounds you desire.

Will based plans can be completed 1-3 weeks from the date of your Initial Consultation.
Can I sign my documents with DocuSign?

No. Wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents need to be signed with very specific formalities or they will not be considered legally valid. That means signing in person, in front of 2 witnesses and a notary (which we provide). The witnesses are there to confirm you are lucid and not under duress, and the notary is there to confirm you are who you say you are. Any changes you make to your documents in the future will need to be executed with the same legal formalities.

What kind of clients do you accept?
We take on a limited clientele each month so we can offer a high level of service to each family. We work with people who value our advice and are seeking a long-term working relationship. If you are looking for the cheapest attorney you can find, do not want to devote time to learning about and understanding your options, or do not feel comfortable completing the Questionnaire before our session, we are not the right law firm for you and would be happy to refer you to a lawyer who may be a better fit.
Why do I need a living trust?
You have two options with your estate planning: a will-based plan, or a living trust-based plan. The vast majority of my clients choose a living trust. A living trust is a document where you appoint a chosen individual to manage your assets should you become incapacitated and distribute them to your family at your death. It is almost always preferrable to a will because it is designed to avoid the time, expense, and publicity of probate, which a will cannot avoid. It comes as a surprise to many of my clients that wills do not avoid probate court…they guarantee it! I go over the difference between a will and a living trust in depth during the Peace of Mind Planning Session. The most common question I get at the end of this session is, “Why would anybody ever do a will?!” Ultimately, however, the decision is yours.
What is probate?

Probate is the court-supervised process of administering your estate upon your death. If you die without a will, your estate must go through probate before all your money can be distributed to your heirs. And if you die WITH a will…your estate still has to go through probate! The only way to avoid probate is with a revocable living trust.

What’s so bad about probate? Even a simple probate can take years to complete and eats up as much as 5-7% of the estate assets in the meantime. It’s also a public proceeding that makes your will available to anybody who wants to look at it.

Although a will is subject to the probate process, a living trust is designed to bypass it completely.

Is a simple Will enough?

Unfortunately, even a simple will is still subject to the expense and delays of probate. It’s not the complexity of the document itself that cause the time and expense, it’s the probate process itself. For this reason, most of my clients choose to create a living trust instead of a will, which is designed for simplicity and to avoid the probate process completely.

However, as part of an overall, comprehensive estate plan, a special “pour-over” will is used to appoint guardians for any minor children alive at your death.

Isn’t estate planning just for the wealthy?

No. This is the biggest myth out there. Estate planning is in no way related to how much money you have, whether you are a married, or whether or not you are a parent.

Estate planning in putting legal documents in place that ensure your assets will go to the people you want, the way you want, when you are gone. It’s about making this as easy as possible on your loved ones during an otherwise difficult time. And we all care about that, no matter how much (or little) money we have.

It’s also about appointing people to manage your property and make health care decisions for you if you are incapacitated, something that matters to all of us regardless of wealth status.

What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney lets you appoint someone to manage your property in the event of your incapacity. You will name someone you trust implicitly as your “agent”. They will step into your shoes and pay your bills, file your taxes, manage your business, etc. if you cannot.

We include a power of attorney for both spouses in every estate plan we create.

What is a designation of healthcare surrogate?
A designation of healthcare surrogate allows you to appoint someone you trust to manage your medical decisions and make decisions for you should you be unable to do so. A living will (not to be confused with a living trust, DNR, or last will and testament) allows you to make certain medical decisions regarding end-of-life decisions, ahead of time.

We include a designation of healthcare surrogate and living will for both spouses in every estate plan we create.
Can we have a quick call before booking the Initial Consultation?

Yes. You can schedule an Advice Call here: https://calendly.com/kellenbryant/advice-call

What if I need to update my estate planning documents?

No problem! A living trust can be changed or revoked entirely as long as the creator is alive and has mental capacity to do so. Any guardians for minor children can also be changed through an amendment (called a “codicil”) to your pour-over will.

All other estate planning documents (power of attorney, health care proxy, etc.) are typically recreated as it is more cost-effective.

The main point is that your documents can (and probably will be) updated as your life, your assets, and the law all change.

I’m not married – do I need an estate plan?
Yes! In some ways, you need estate planning MORE than married folks. Many non-married individuals want to leave their money to charities and friends, not their closest living relatives. Unfortunately, if you die without getting this in writing, your estate could end up in the hands of that distant cousin you’ve met twice. And it’s important for everyone to have a Designation of Healthcare Surrogate and Financial Power of Attorney – you need to have a person designated to help you if you become incapacitated.
How can I make sure my kids don’t get a big check on their 18th birthday?

Great question! I have yet to meet a parent who actually wants their kids to inherit a big lump sum on their 18th birthday (which is the age you are legally entitled to inherit). Yet that is exactly what will happen if you don’t get an estate plan saying otherwise. The good news is that with a trust, you can choose a later age for your kids to inherit – say 25, or 30. You have lots of options. We’ll discuss them at your Peace of Mind Planning Session.

You nominate legal guardians in a Will, or a Pour-Over Will that goes along with your Revocable Living Trust. If you pass away without nominating guardians, a judge will make the decision for you. You also run the risk that family members will fight over who gets custody because you didn’t make your preference clear.

Our firm goes the extra mile and helps you nominate short-term guardians to care for your children in the interim while the long-term guardians are appointed. And did you know you can “confidentially exclude” people you would never want raising your children no matter what? We can help with that!

You can. Keep in mind that Legal Zoom and law firms are two different things. They provide two different services. This is why the cost is different. Legal Zoom offers form documents you fill out and execute yourself. They are not a law firm and do not give legal advice. An attorney, on the other hand, counsels you and gives you legal advice based on your specific circumstances. They will customize your documents, ensure they are signed with the proper formalities, and pick up the phone when you call with questions. If these things are important to you, you should work with an attorney. If they are not, Legal Zoom may be a better option.

Do you work with families in all 50 states?
Estate planning is an area of law that is state-specific. That means you should work with an attorney licensed in the state in which you reside. Our attorneys are licensed in Florida. If you live in Florida, we can prepare your estate planning documents. If you do not, message us, and we will be happy to refer you to an attorney licensed in your state.

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