There was a lawyer in Michigan many years ago who was a master of marketing. He drove a long black hearse with his marketing slogan “No frills wills” left, right and rear. He made a lot of money. Lately, we have seen billboard ads in Rhode Island for “$100 wills”. Legal Zoom is all over the airwaves and elsewhere. We charge more than nominal fees. Why? Because “It ain’t that easy”.
At times, we review “cookie-cutter” wills, internet wills or poorly drafted wills after a testator has died. Did they avoid probate? Usually, no. Did they incur extra expenses? Usually, yes. Did they expend large sums of money for a nursing home without Medicaid planning? Often, yes. Did they fail to apply for Veteran’s Aid & Attendance benefits? Sometimes, yes. Were income tax or estate tax consequences considered in their estate planning? Often, no.
In our practice, estate planning is an ongoing process because circumstances change over time in a family. Birth of a child, divorce, death of a spouse, purchase of a home, growth or loss of assets or health problems are part of life. Loss of mental capacity due to age, accident or illness requires difficult family decisions and sound and experienced advice. We store your wills, trusts and other vital documents in our fireproof office safe; we retain your “hard file” and your computer file with our ongoing notes for your lifetime. We meet with every client every three years without charge to discuss life changes.
When we meet with clients, the first step is to view your assets, your liabilities and your income and expenses. Then we help you to make an estate plan.
While a prediction of future events is a fool’s errand and best left to the book-makers, anticipating change is a critical part of the planning process. An extended and slow-paced meeting with one of our attorneys usually uncovers the need for a change in the plan. Estate planning is not simple and it should not be rushed.
So you do get what you pay for! We do our best to keep your costs reasonable and to give you your money’s worth. At the end of the day, we’re here to provide you with sound legal advice regarding your estate planning needs, not simply to fill in a form for you to stash away in your filing cabinet. It’s the ongoing advice that you pay for, not the word processing services. So the billboard attorneys can have the low-cost niche. We’ll stick to our own niche, which is to provide you with the most competent estate planning advice around.