If you do estate planning, particularly as an attorney, you really must read this article, Square Peg, Round Hole, in Private Wealth Magazine. Hannah Shaw Grove and Russ Prince interviewed clients who began but failed to complete their estate plan. (We all know that many clients start and stop.) What the study found is staggering:
- 97% of attorney's whose clients failed to complete the work were "unconcerned."
- 95% of clients who fail to implement say that the plan did not address their core goals, wants, needs, and objectives.
- 93% say that the trusts and estates attorney made them "uneasy."
- 90% of clients who failed to complete plans said they were so confused that they could not tell if the plan did what they wanted done.
- 46% said their attorney talked down to them.
This is a stunning indictment of planning as usual where coldness and mystification go along with what client's perceive to be indifference and professional hauteur. To say, "We don't do touchy-feely," as many estate tax attorneys I know say proudly, is tantamount to saying, "We don't do our job, don't plan to do it, and are unconcerned whether we help or hurt clients whose money we take and waste." Whether indifference to client goals, and inability to communicate planning in terms clients can understand, is malpractice under the canons of the bar, I do not know, but it is sure is stupid in the way that only highly educated people can be when they take their signals from each other in a professional clique. Pity the families and the society whose legacy plans are created by advisors who do not listen to client goals, including the desire to make the world a better place.