If you are looking for an estate planning attorney, please read: How to Find the Right Estate Planning Attorney for You – for those who have the estate planning attorney they feel understands their needs, and provides great service, here are few tips to keep that relationship running smoothly.
Periodic Updates – Keeping your estate plan up to date is part of your job as the Trustor (Creator, Settlor, Grantor of the trust). You do this by managing the “funding” of your trust when you acquire new assets, or when you sell assets. You may choose to email your attorney (and your successor trustee) an updated list of titled assets once a year; you can then ask your attorney to consider any law changes that may affect the administration of your trust.
We recommend talking with your estate planning attorney about the best ways to keep each other up to date. After all, the attorney may have life changes which could affect the service you receive.
Meet the Successor – Since no one lives forever, it makes sense that your attorney will retire, or be permanently unavailable, some day. Ask your attorney, “What is your succession plan?”. If you like the way your attorney does certain things (nice appointment reminders, willing to meet in-person or virtually, listens well…), then ask the successor to do more of the same, when the time comes. Perhaps your attorney does not yet have a succession plan, so you may be the rare client who encourages such a plan to be developed. This benefits you both!
Pay the bill with a smile – When you find the right professional in any field, and the price is right, paying the bill in timely fashion shows your kindness and respect. For many good professionals, the billing process is their least favorite part of the job, so not requiring a bunch of reminders makes you a “good” client. Once a practice gets busy with lots of good clients, unwilling, or unkind, clients are often let go.
For my very first estate plan, I did not have much in the way of cash, so I asked the attorney if she would accept monthly payments. We agreed on a payment plan, and I made sure that I made every payment on time. This professional relationship grew over time, and I’m so grateful. Additional tip: If you have identified great professionals with whom you love working, introduce them to each other!