New Services from Estate Planning Law Firms

August 21, 2010

In this post, let’s discuss some new ways that some estate planning firms are adjusting their practices to answer some of the main complaints people have about lawyers, including high fees, accessibility, convenience, etc.  These efforts to bridge the gap with clients in need of their services is an excellent step towards building and maintaining trust in the legal profession.

Review of DIY Documents — As discussed in this post and throughout the legal industry, lawyers generally do not support people drafting their own legal documents, especially wills.  Many attorneys will not even review the do-it-yourself (hereinafter “DIY”) documents that people create from online or software sources.  By reviewing these documents, many lawyers believe that they would be giving credence to DIY instruments.  As a result, so the argument goes, the reliance people have on the legal profession would further decay, and the amount of business sent our way would reduce while the number of lawyers is increasing.

But this viewpoint is not unanimous.  A growing number of lawyers are beginning to charge a nominal flat fee or one hour of time to analyze the adequacy of the DIY documents prepared by the client.  By providing a second set of eyes to DIY-ers, these lawyers instead believe that they are adjusting to the demands of the market and are thereby adding value to clients.

Nolo.com is one source that specifically identifies lawyers in your area that will do this for you.

The “Clarity and Confidence Consultation” — Leanna Hamill, an attorney who writes the Massachusetts Estate Planning and Elder Law blog, has introduced this consultation service in her practice.  The consultation is provided to family members who have been put in the caregiver position for declining elderly parents or other relatives.   Ms. Hamill provides review and analysis of the relevant estate planning documents and finances, an explanation of the family’s responsibilities, and further recommendations amongst additional benefits, with the goal of making caregivers feel confident in their role and its duties.  This innovation is a fine example of how more lawyers than you might think truly remain in the profession to provide much needed and effective personal help.

Client Maintenance Programs – Instead of a one-time series of appointments to complete your estate plan, attorneys have begun to implement annual fee programs that are designed to keep your estate planning documents and strategies current.  The potential benefits for clients include lower annual legal costs, better accessibility to lawyers through unlimited calling programs, and systematic oversight of your situation through questionnaires, seminars, newsletters explaining updates in the law, etc.

Earlier this year, Vincent Bonazzoli, another Massachusetts estate planning attorney, founded the Client Maintenance Academy, which is the first school that teaches lawyers how they can implement these programs efficiently and effectively for clients.

What do you think of these types of services?  Would the availability of any of these three ideas at your favorite law firm motivate you to initiate and implement your estate plan?  Please comment below with your thoughts.

 New Services from Estate Planning Law Firms

Scott

Scott R. Zucker, Esq. is the owner of The Zucker Law Firm PLLC, located just outside the Capital Beltway in Annandale, within five miles of the City of Fairfax, the county seat of beautiful Fairfax County, Virginia. The firm focuses mainly on estate planning services for Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania clientele, and seeks to do so in an affordable and approachable way. People interested in learning more can contact Scott by phone or email.

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