Estate Planning Requires Confidence Building
So many people are afraid to go and see a lawyer for estate planning. And, for good reason! They may not want to look foolish, knowing so little about the subject. They may feel intimidated by the knowledge and authority of the attorney. They are frightened about the cost or being taken advantage of. They may have had a bad previous experience with a lawyer, either in the same or in another field of law, and so on.
For this reason, we start with the premise that we must first build the client’s confidence. We do this by offering a free initial consultation where we explore the client’s social and financial issues. It’s often like chatting with someone in their living room. We like to get to know you and your overall situation. It’s a low-key, judgment free zone. We park our egos at the door when we come in and endeavor to treat our clients as peers and equals.
All the while, we are formulating the outline of an estate plan in our heads and passing along our thoughts and ideas to the client on an ongoing basis throughout the process. By the end of the first meeting, we have usually formulated a tentative estate plan which we share with the client, also stating what the fees will be. We give the client a copy of our book “Elder Law Estate Planning”, written in plain English, and tell them which chapters apply to their situation and, for those who prefer to watch, the link to our elder law estate planning webinar. The client is invited to a second free consultation, two or three weeks later, to have all their questions answered, draft the estate plan and receive a written fee proposal. Unique among elder law estate planning firms, we do not ask our clients to sign any retainer agreement or to pay any fees up front.
Our fee proposal states that unless and until the process is completed to the client’s satisfaction, no fees are due and there is no obligation to the law firm. In other words, the client remains in charge of their affairs right through to completion.