I feel I have a unique perspective on estate planning due to working at a bank for three years before leaving for law school. This is where I gained my exposure to trusts, powers of attorney, and the basics of probate. I thought I knew some valuable information about the legal workings of these aspects of estate planning and I would share what I “knew” with my clients.
As I sit here now and reflect back on that “advice” I gave to my clients, two thoughts come to mind: (1) I meant well but (2) I should have kept my legal opinions to myself and let the experts be the ones to give the advice.
These thoughts are at the forefront of my mind, and my temper is boiling a little bit as I write this, because of a conversation I had just today with a client. She went to her bank and was expressing frustration over a legal situation with her banker. After hearing about the situation, the banker gave her some “advice.” The banker told her what to do, printed off a form from the internet, highlighted some parts of the form to fill out, and instructed my client to come back when she was done with the court process and the banker would be able to help her with this dilemma.
I have a feeling that this banker is a wonderful lady and that she felt she was only looking out for the best interest of our mutual client. I hope that she was only doing what she felt was right as she sought to offer assistance. But after the client finished telling me this story, I then told her that:
1. The banker’s advice was terrible because, had the advice been followed, it would have cost the client well more than the amount of money that was at the heart of this problem;
2. The form the banker printed was completely wrong for the given situation;
3. The highlighted portions of the form did not even apply to the situation;
4. The statement to come back when the court process is over is a gross understatement of how complex, cumbersome, and time-consuming the process really is (could take years).
I do not write this to be mean. Again, my unique perspective here is that I probably gave some very poor advice when I was in that situation as well. But now that I’m on this side of the desk it is very clear to me that I should have referred my clients to a qualified attorney to answer their questions.
I consider it a privilege to be where I am today and to be able to meet with amazing individuals and families every day. Please don’t call me if you need to know how to fix your transmission, but I’d love to meet with you to discuss how to properly structure your estate.
For more information or to schedule a free consultation, contact our office today at 888.222.1328.
What the Attorneys of Morris Hall Can Do For You:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100’s of years of combined experience ensuring that families’ assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down. The attorneys also help those in Arizona and New Mexico to apply for and receive Medicaid assistance and Veterans Benefits. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.