About Privette Legacy Planning
by Amy Privette, Attorney for Privette Legacy Planning
It's Different Here.
Before I ever opened the doors to this law firm, I spent a lot of time meeting with financial advisors, bankers, accountants, and other professionals, and I asked them to tell me their lawyer horror stories. I wanted to know what they hated about working with lawyers and what complaints they had heard from their clients. I begged them to pull no punches with me, and they didn't. Every person I met had a horror story or complaint. As I collected their tales, I made a vow that these were not going to be the stories people told about Privette Legacy Planning! Those conversations were illuminating. They revealed to me where the bar was for client expectations, and I was determined that this firm would exceed those expectations at every turn. Let me share with you the 3 complaints I heard the most often.
#1 - Sticker Shock
Clients suffering a serious case of "Sticker Shock" when receiving their final bill was the number one complaint. Many of these clients were billed at an hourly rate and although they were told what the hourly rate would be, the clients were ill-prepared for the total number of hours that would be involved in preparing the estate plan or overseeing the administration. There were also cases where the client was never quoted a fee and simply received a bill at the end of the case. I remember one advisor sharing about clients who anticipated a bill in the $5,000 range only to end up with a final bill that was over $8,000!
At Privette Legacy Planning, there will be no sticker shock. Most of the cases we handle are based on a flat fee, and that fee typically is presented to clients at the end of the initial consultation. Estate planning is an investment in your family's future. By working off a flat fee, this allows clients to budget for their plan and have confidence that there will be no surprise bills coming down the pike! Read more about our pricing methods here.
#2 - Lack of Attorney Involvement
I will never forget the financial advisor who told me his clients went through the entire estate planning process and never met the attorney. All of their meetings and correspondence was done with the paralegal. The ethical implications of running a practice that way are enough to keep me up at night. Another story involved a client being offered a free consultation, only to discover that the free consultation was with the firm's sales manager -- someone with no legal training. The client asked to meet the attorney just to see if the attorney would be a good personality fit and was told by the sales manager there was a $1500 fee to meet the attorney.
At Privette Legacy Planning, I handle every consultation. You can see from my bio that I started my legal career as a paralegal -- a job I thoroughly enjoyed for over 7 years. And during my paralegal career, I participated in a lot of client meetings. But I never ran the initial consultation, and that's because paralegals are not allowed to give legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you need a legal professional to solve it. You need someone who can properly advise you on the consequences of your decisions. Someone with the expertise to guide you through the decision points involved in crafting an estate plan. That's the job of the attorney. So, for better or worse, if you work with Privette Legacy Planning, you work with me.
Oh, and we have no sales manager on staff.
#3 - Failure to Communicate
Communication - or the lack thereof - is the most common bar complaint filed against attorneys, and it is also a common theme in the conversations I had prior to starting this firm. Often, it was the clients who complained about the lack of regular communication from the law firm. But, in one particular instance, it was the professional himself. I vividly remember him describing how he had reached out to a law firm to refer one of his dearest clients to them, and the law firm never responded. His e-mail went unanswered. His voice mail unreturned. He was dumbfounded that the law firm would blow him off when he was trying to give them business. If that's the way the law firm treated a professional partner, he could only surmise it wasn't any better for the firm's clients.
Privette Legacy Planning is a small firm, and there will be times when all of us are busy assisting clients. We believe our clients deserve our undivided attention, so we generally do not interrupt meetings to take phone calls. Our promise, though, is that if you leave us a message, we will get back to you in a timely manner either by phone or e-mail. We make it a point to stay in contact with our clients. In fact, many times we are the ones reaching out to clients saying "we haven't heard from you" rather than the other way around. Aside from typical avenues of communication, we also invite clients and friends of the firm to connect by engaging with us on social media, subscribing to our monthly newsletter, and subscribing to our blog.
At Privette Legacy Planning, we are not in the transaction business.
We are in the relationship business.
Our firm mission...our raison d'être...our why is quite simple. It's you!
If you feel we are not living up to that mission, please e-mail me to share your experience.