There’s no such thing as a free lunch…or a free dinner
Guest Post by Lauren T. Millovitsch, Esq.
(learn more about Lauren at the end of this post)
If you’re retired or approaching retirement, you’ve probably received a few invitations in the mail for estate planning seminars. Generally, they reel you in with the promise of a free lunch or dinner. But what is the true cost of that free meal?
Typically, the attorneys or advisors hosting these seminars are selling a one-sized fits all estate plan. They act as the intermediary. They ask you to provide some basic information about your family and they will prepare all the estate planning documents you need. You may never even meet with an attorney, or if you do, it’s only when you go to sign the documents. The client pays a flat fee for the service and a standard suite of boiler plate documents are produced on your behalf. Estate documents are highly personalized; much discussion, care, consideration and possible alternative scenarios need to be actively discussed with the attorney to be sure your individual needs are met.
Beware! There is no such thing as one-size fits all when it comes to estate planning. Your family situation, assets, and goals all factor into what documents you may need and the terms of those documents. For example, not everyone needs a revocable living trust. When I meet with a new client, we spend at least an hour talking about his or her particular family and financial situation. Is it a second marriage where there are concerns about protecting assets for the client’s children from a prior marriage? Or is one of the client’s children a spendthrift, so the client wants to make sure that such child does not inherit assets outright? We also spend time talking about how the estate tax and probate fees may or may not affect the client.
It’s these discussions that shape an estate plan and the documents that are drafted. So if you purchase an estate plan at one of these seminars, you’ll often end up with an estate plan that is either too complex for your particular situation or insufficient to meet your needs. And then you’ll end up shelling out legal fees to fix it – or worse you’ll become incapacitated or pass away before it’s fixed, and then your family is stuck with a plan that may not be able to be changed.
Of course keep in mind that not all of these seminars are bad. Some are hosted by reputable investment advisors or attorneys. But you need to be careful. If you are susceptible to sales pressure, and find it hard to pass up these types of offers, you may not want to attend. If you do attend, before signing up for anything make sure to ask questions. Some good questions to ask: Will I meet personally with an attorney? If so, how many times? At a minimum, you should meet with an estate planning attorney twice – once to talk about your assets and family situation and a second time after you receive and review your estate planning drafts, to go over them in detail and execute them. Also ask questions about the attorney’s background and qualifications. Are they an estate planning specialist or a general practitioner?
In my opinion, a better method to find an estate planning attorney who deserves both your business and your trust is via a referral from a trusted advisor like your accountant or your financial planner. These advisors will have your best interests at heart, and will make sure to connect you with a qualified attorney who can work with you to craft an estate plan specifically tailored to your needs.
To contact Lauren or find out additional information about Blanco Tackabery & Matamoros, P.A. and its services, please contact:
Email: [email protected]
150 Fairview Road, Suite 320
Mooresville, NC 28117
Phone: 704.696.2160 Fax: 704.696.2165