Why We're Different

Explaining to you how we’re different requires explaining what the “traditional” experience with a lawyer is like. If you’ve worked with a lawyer to prepare estate planning documents for you in the past, this will sound familiar.

During the traditional experience, you’ll go in and meet with a lawyer who will often make things seem very complicated and confusing.

You’ll have a good idea that the lawyer is smart and seems to know what they are doing, so you’ll nod and answer questions as if you understand everything. Because you want to do the right thing for your family, you’ll have the lawyer prepare documents for you, and you’ll sign the documents, feeling relieved that you’ve got that taken care of.

A couple having a consultation with an estate planning attorney in Southampton to secure their assets

You’ll take your fancy planning binder home, stick it on a shelf or in a drawer, mark estate planning off on your checklist as DONE, and never think about it again.

You might remember your lawyer said something about moving your bank accounts into the trust.

So you’ll go to the bank, forget what you were supposed to do, call your lawyer’s office, get a voicemail, have to leave the bank and wait for a call back (which takes several hours at least and sometimes days), and by that time, you’ll have gotten busy with other things and never get around to moving that bank account.

A few weeks later, you’ll get a bill in the mail for $67.50 for 15 minutes of your lawyer’s time to answer a couple of questions. You’ll make a mental note– don’t call a lawyer ever again.

Several years later, you’ll refinance your house or sell it and buy a new one and forget that you were supposed to let your lawyer know or make sure you kept the title in the name of the trust.

Your children will get older, making your guardianship choices outdated, but you don’t want to call your lawyer because you know you’ll get a bill in the mail two weeks later.

You’ll hear something about a change in the tax law, but you figure you’d surely get a letter in the mail from your lawyer if it were something that affected you, so you don’t worry about it. And, you’d have to dig through boxes to find your trust documents so you could remember your lawyer’s name and find her contact information. Who has time for that?

It’s not until you become incapacitated or die and your family finds the binder you stuck up on a shelf several years before and never looked at again that they’ll realize your plan is so outdated that it has nothing to do with your life, your assets, and the law.

Your family is at a loss. They don’t know where to turn or what to do, so they contact the same lawyer you used to prepare the documents, who is as happy as possible to probate your assets, which never made it into the trust.

A senior man considering how to update his Will during COVID-19


Because not too long ago, it happened to my family, and I swore it would never happen to my clients when I created my firm. And since then, I have seen countless clients come in to see me who have had this same experience.

Unfortunately, what I discovered is the estate planning industry was not designed to serve growing families who experience lots of change on their way to success. It was designed to serve 70 and 80-year-olds who were preparing for death.

What we do differently at VM Gokea Law:

1. We charge a flat fee. Nothing we do is billed on an hourly basis. We’ll always agree to a flat fee in advance of the engagement, so you’ll never have any surprises about what something will cost you.

You can call us and ask your questions without receiving a bill in the mail. We know that you’ll need to communicate with us during your lifetime about changes to your plan, changes to your life and assets, and we will communicate with you regularly about changes in the law.

You can expect to hear from us every week in our email newsletter and our monthly newsletter by mail.

2. We do not leave the ownership of your assets to chance. We have an entire team to work with you to ensure your assets are properly titled in the name of the Trust. We take responsibility for supervising the funding.

We also have an established process to ensure that your assets remain titled correctly and newly acquired assets are titled properly.

With the client’s assistance, we utilize a sophisticated software program that allows us to fund your living trust, track the funding process to completion, and verify that it is done.

3. We keep in touch and emphasize ongoing maintenance and education that supports your estate plan. Since everything constantly changes, you cannot expect a plan to accomplish what it was intended to accomplish if it is never updated.

The costs of failing to update are far greater than the costs of keeping plans current. We place great emphasis on establishing a structured and systematized process to create and maintain your estate plan.

These systems provide you with a process to manage the inevitable changes in the law, your family, and your finances. We don’t look at a plan as something you do once and then never look at it again.

We look at a plan, and the signing of your plan documents, as the beginning of a lifetime relationship with our law firm.

That’s really what makes us different.

We make sure your plan will work when it is most needed.