Death: an uncomfortable topic for most. As estate planning attorneys it is our job to drag clients into morbidity and push them to consider what will happen to their family and their legacies once they die. Of course, in doing so, we hit resistance. Clients believe documents are the one stop estate planning solution; this view is reinforced by media and online will creation sites. Estate planning attorneys are viewed as scriveners and order takers. This certainly is not what you signed up for.
This view is of estate planning should be dead. There is no room for building a respectful relationship with this mentality. Preparing documents and sending clients on their way does not guarantee a family will be taken care of, nor has there been any conversation with those who will be left behind and have to take care of certain tasks and obligations amidst a stressful and grievous time.
How do we break free of this outdated paradigm? By reinventing the process. Ongoing client care programs are the key to better estate planning, building relationships with clients, and shedding the scrivener and order taker role.
From the moment you begin communicating with a potential client, parameters for how your relationship will work have to be set. You are not a scrivener. You are a trusted advisor. These are not the first words out of your mouth during your initial meeting. No, the first words are questions where you learn a client’s story. You want to know their values, their character, and how they envision their families being protected in the wake of their death. The parameters you set are those of a trusting relationship, not a transactional 60 minute meeting.
Unfortunately, there will be those who only want the transaction, this means sometimes you will turn away potential clients or you may choose to have those persons on the transactional paradigm that will typically not take care of them or their family. Once you are committed to an ongoing client care program, you may need a clean break from the antiquated systems in order to create systems that will be more satisfying to you and your client’s family. The clients on your client care program will become your best referral sources for not only new clients but for creating multigenerational estate plans.
Establishing an ongoing client care program and re-envisioning and implementing new systems might be an idea that makes you uncomfortable, not unlike how clients feel when you have to talk about death. Like talking with clients about death, discussing and strategizing about an ongoing client care program and implementing a holistic solution will, ultimately, be the most beneficial and rewarding choice you can make.
Sign up for our fall Client Care Academy Foundations Workshop by emailing our Program Coordinator, Megan Davitt, and break free of the scrivener role today!
Want to read about the processes and how the client care program was developed? I invite you to read my book, “How an Ordinary Lawyer Creates and Sustains an Extraordinary Client Care Program.” It’s an excellent introduction into the concepts and programs we teach at our Foundations Workshop.