My mama told me, you better shop around
Ooh yeah, a-try to get yourself a bargain son
Don't be sold on the very first one
~The Miracles, 1961
My mother loves the music from the '50s and '60s. So when I recently came across something shared by another attorney expressing frustration that new clients of hers had met with her, then sought advice (and a rate quote) from another attorney, before ultimately engaging the original attorney's services, I immediately thought of this song by The Miracles. If you're not familiar with it, scroll to the end of this post and give it a listen!
My reaction to the other attorney's situation: It's okay to shop around!
In my opinion, clients should only pursue this estate planning endeavor with someone in whom they have trust and confidence. To be successful, estate planning requires clients to share information about their relationships and the state of their financial affairs. The attorney can not give proper advice and counsel without receiving full disclosure of pertinent issues from the client. Yet, much of this information is highly personal. If the client has any reservations about the attorney with whom he or she is working, then there is a very good chance the client may not share the full truth of the family dynamics or financial situation with the attorney.
To do it well, estate planning requires focus and a willingness to consider unpleasant scenarios. Imagining someone else raising your kids and being responsible for their day-to-day needs is not something any parent wants to think about. Contemplating the loss of your spouse and a potential remarriage after that loss is hard to fathom. But, a good, comprehensive estate plan should take all of this into account. The attorney is responsible for guiding the client through these difficult decision points and, in some cases, challenging the client to make sure he or she is thinking through all the possible ramifications of the plan design. Building trust and establishing a good working relationship is vital to these discussions.
If the client does not have faith in the attorney, then the client is not going to have faith in the plan the attorney creates. I once had a client tell me he was embarrassed by the documents a prior attorney prepared for him, but he signed them anyway. That is not the experience I want my clients to have. There's a lot at stake here, so in my mind, it's okay if clients want to be doubly sure before they start down this road.
Once we start, though, buckle up buddy. I am committed to giving you the best service I can provide, and I want my client to be just as committed to me!
SHOP AROUND, THE MIRACLES, 1961