Learn Important Probate Essentials, including key things that go wrong in an estate, how to prevent them, and what to do if they happen.
“Well, they had a lawyer, so …” is a refrain that may be unique to estate and probate litigation. It seems that heirs – legitimate heirs with very legitimate claims – are hesitant, sometimes fatally so, to follow through with their claims because of the volume of documents the deceased signed. Somehow, big thick wills and trusts equal a great lawyer which equals airtight provisions which … you get the picture.
Admittedly, it can be intimidating. Certainly on the surface, certainly when one is confronted with what looks like hundreds of pages, seemingly all in small print. And, it is true that there are a lot of very good estate planning attorneys out there doing a lot of great work.
So, why shouldn’t heirs be intimidated?
Consider this: ever watch a TV lawyer show where the client refused to follow their lawyer’s advice? Of course you have – because without that kind of conflict they’d be a lot fewer law shows on air.
It does happen in real practice and it probably happens more in estate planning than any place else. The reason is as simple as it is compelling – estate planning revolves around money, property – frequently including businesses – and, most importantly, family. It is, therefore, emotional. At times, very emotional.
A lot of decisions have to be made when planing an estate – regardless of size. Decisions that are quickly colored by emotions. It’s an area of the law where the attorney can advise all she wants, point out what the law is, teach, educate, even argue … then, it’s up to the client. Completely.
Estate planning lawyers can only do what their clients allow them to do. She can only tell the client so many times that they are setting themselves up for an estate challenge. Then she has to draft the documents. Good attorneys (for a look at the bad check out our earlier post) keep copious case notes outlining their client’s wishes against their advice. Usually, this includes letters to the client.
The thing to remember is this – the best estate planning attorney in the world doesn’t plan an estate like it’s hers. She plans and drafts around the client. So, a hundred page will, trusts and sub-trusts and everything drafted eloquently doesn’t mean anything if the client didn’t listen to the lawyer.
If you have any of these questions, please feel free to call a member of our team and schedule a consultation with our office.
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