Explaining to you how we’re different requires an explanation of 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 oftentimes make things seem very complicated and confusing.
You’ll have a good idea your 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 you got THAT taken care of.
You’ll take your fancy estate planning binder full of documents home, stick it on a shelf or in a drawer, mark estate planning off your checklist as DONE, feel good and never think about it again.
You might remember your lawyer said something about moving your bank accounts into your trust so you’ll go to the bank, forget what you were supposed to do, call your lawyer’s office, plan to go back to the bank a few days later, 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 for answering a couple of questions over the phone. You’ll make a mental note– don’t call 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Your children will get older, making your guardianship choices outdated, but you don’t want to call your lawyer because you know you’ll get a bill in the mail two weeks later.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 was 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the binder you stuck up on a shelf several years before and never looked at again, that they’ll realize your plan is so outdated that it has nothing to do with your life, your assets and the law.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 can be to probate your assets, which never made it into the trust.
Because I've seen it happen time and time again while working as a litigation attorney and I swore it would never happen to my clients when I created my own firm. Since then, I have seen countless clients come to see me who have had this exact 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 old’s who were preparing for death.