Question: Two years ago, a lawyer created a trust for my wife and me. We wanted to protect our home and larger investment assets from being depleted, in case of a nursing home admission. We paid a lot of money for the service, and thought we began the 5-year journey toward protection. Apparently, our assets were not transferred to the trust. Much to our surprise, our lawyer gave that responsibility to us. Is this right?
Answer: It is important to know the scope of legal services involved with such estate planning. Unfortunately, your situation is quite common. Some lawyers fail to approach these projects from their clients’ perspective. Understanding the clients’ goal, is key to serving their interest. What does this mean?
A quick example: A few years ago, our office got a computer virus – so I hired a computer service professional to “protect us against viruses in the future”. This type of security software needs to be updated regularly, to keep up with virus trends. Periodic scans of the computers also need to run weekly. I saw a problem, and hired a professional to take care of it, from soup to nuts.
Our first technician, installed the software, but passed the responsibility of updates and scans onto me. As a busy law office, we are not equipped to handle the aftercare. I was angry with him. He did not approach the problem from my perspective.
Similarly, you wanted your estate planning project handled – in full. However, the “aftercare” of your asset transfer was passed onto you without your knowledge. (I’m sure is was disclosed in a lengthy letter or fee agreement.) For now, let’s get those assets transferred asap. We will work together to complete your project, soup to nuts.