You are the financial thought leader and implementer for your clients. Working collaboratively with an estate trust attorney on your client estate legal issues can be daunting. Here are a few tips where you remain the financial thought leader when dealing with an estate attorney.
Tip #1 - Lawyer training - Attorney's are trained/taught how to balance the use of words and logic around the law. They think linearly (e.g. If this, then that). You have to think and to act in a non-linear way (e.g. If this on taxes, cash flow, investment, insurance, estate plans, then that on retirement, spousal passing, income levels, current/future taxes and generational issues). This means you bring a multi-dimensional perspective to the table for discussion and consideration that will have a meaningful impact for your clients.
Tip #2 - Estate planning - Estate trust attorney's focus is on creating wills and trusts (revocable or irrevocable) using document templates as a starting point. Estate planning starts with client discussions about the philosophy of their wealth and their family plus all legal entities that they own/control. This leads into who gets what, when, how and why. No lawyer needed at this point. This is your special talent asking broad questions so the attorney can implement narrow adaptable goals. Estate planning adds these wishes into words plus potential tax planning.
Tip #3 - Technical points of estate planning - Rests around legal tax issues. If the estate trust attorney misses the philosophical issues around your clients wealth and their family all the technical points and achievements of the estate planning documents will miss the mark. Don’t mess with this technical stuff. As someone told me when I worked in an open-pit gold mine during my freshman summer, "Don't play another man's poker game."
Tip #4 - Meetings - Be at all the estate trust planning meetings. Your clients need your big picture guidance and knowledge on all the non-linear issues affecting their estate plans.
Tip #5 - Reviews - Review the philosophical purpose and goals of your clients wills and trusts every 3 to 5 years. Estate trust attorney’s generally do not do that. They would have to charge for it if they remembered to do it. Your clients get this review as part of the holistic financial planning services you provide.