An Academy Member writes:
“A woman and her amazing young adult children came for a consultation at the end of December. Her husband had passed away in October and she knew she needed to get her estate plan in order. It wasn’t a hurry, of course, just something she ought to take care of at some point. She passed away unexpectedly yesterday. I am heartbroken, and will be processing my “laissez-faire” attitude about letting people leave my office without making a decision. I know I can’t make people move forward, but I know more than they do about how quickly tragedy can strike any of us and have a responsibility to do whatever is possible to get them to think through the consequences of not taking care of things.”
Attorneys hate the idea of being labeled as a “pushy salesperson” in estate planning meetings, and generally want to promote the image of a sensitive counselor instead. But when do you let clients who are clearly in need of your services slide out the door with the vague promise that they’ll think it over?
We know there is a delicate dance between attorney and client in these meetings, but when is it best to really take a stand for the family’s welfare? There are no easy answers in these situations, especially in a free society, but acquiring the skill to inspire clients to do what is in their best interests can often be the difference between a brighter future for the family or a lifetime of regrets.
Director, Member Services
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.