Maeutic meant midwife in Greek. Socrates as midwife to the interlocutor's identity brought a new self into the world, often kicking and struggling. For the midwife there are tools and techniques and best practices, but the test of excellence is whether the new born baby lives, as does the mother. In the case of the maeutic method in estate planning, it may well be that the mother (often as it happens a successful hardbitten man) always dies in a successful birthing, reborn as the new self. What financial professionals call the "discovery/agreement" phase of planning (or goal setting and fact finding) could best be considered a maeutic dialogue. But what advisors are willing and able to birth the client's vision and changing identity? Generally advisors do not do "touch feely," and do not consider midwifery a suitable profession. As a result many a plan and many a client's emerging self or legacy is still-born.
These thoughts after reading a fine book, For Love and Money: Protecting Family & Wealth in Estate and Succession Planning - a New Approach Blending Law and Psychology by John W. Ambrecht, Esq, Howard Berens, M.D., Richard Goldwater, M.D., with Tom Gorman. They begin with a discussion of King Lear, and reflect on the maeutic method in estate planning and succession planning. They do not bill themselves as Fools, but honestly that is where the dicussion of Lear and estate plannning goes, if you let it. It was the Fool and he alone who applied the maeutic method, drawing not so much on the traditon of Socrates but on that of Diogenes, the naked trickster, to bring the King to a rebirth experience, not that it did the king much good in the end, since he went mad in the final scene and dies amidst the wreckage of his world. Such often is the journey from success to significance. A little wisdom can be a dangerous thing. Better to remain a fool, really, in ermine preferably.