Thursday, December 16, 2010

Outsourcing Your Estate Plan! Wait, What? Really?!?

A recent problem in estate planning is outsourcing. Here's more information and how to make sure your plan isn't outsourced.

The outsourcing issue affects all of us. Many jobs have been moved overseas: call centers; fulfillment offices and others. You may not even be aware that legal services have been outsourced overseas. I originally started drafting this article before the recent fracas erupted about the tax bill. Now, with the tax bill passed by the Senate and hopefully soon to be passed by the House, I am happy to get back to informing you about this outsourcing problem.

This article is not about outsourcing, this is about estate planning; how to get your plan done properly and make sure you don't end up with an outsourced plan. Whatever your thoughts are on the topic of outsourcing, they are valid and not what this issue is about.

How did I find out about outsourced estate plans? Quite interesting actually. Our firm was solicited to purchase legal services from several suppliers in India. We continue to receive offers weekly for outsourced legal services. We can hire paralegals for $5 to $7 per hour and lawyers for $10 to $20 per hour. Yes, your eyes don't deceive you, and those are not typos! Those are immense savings for any law firm to consider and many have pursued those incredible deals.

Lawyers, either inexperienced in estate planning, or just seeking to make more money in their practices are using these outsourced legal services to produce work for their clients. This is legal, but the professionalism may be questionable. I strongly urge you not to pay for or use legal documents for your estate plan that are outsourced.

Estate planning is a specialized field. While it may not be rocket science, it can be close. With the interplay between sometimes complicated family dynamics and the ever-increasing complexity of our tax laws, estate planning should not be undertaken without appropriate training and experience and certainly not outsourced.

I have surveyed several of my colleagues who are estate planning experts, and none of them would ever consider outsourcing your estate planning. The ability to work one on one with our clients, understand their concerns and goals and to then translate that into their documents is something that real experts pride themselves on. For the same reasons that you should avoid internet and fill-in-the-blank documents, so should you avoid outsourced documents. They are hazardous to your family and to your property!

So how do you protect yourself and your family? Follow these simple steps:

1. Work With Experts. For your estate planning, make sure you deal with an attorney who specializes in estate planning and ONLY estate planning. You wouldn't go to your foot doctor if you have a problem with your heart. Use that same principle in dealing with your estate planner.

2. Work with qualified experts. I recommend you insist on these qualifications at a minimum:

A. The attorney has an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the attorney rating service. This rating cannot be purchased and is awarded only upon peer review.

B. The attorney specialize in full time estate planning practice.

C. The attorney has a minimum of at least 7 years of full time estate planning specialization or concentration.

D. The attorney be a member of their state's Trust and Estate Bar Section or be a member of ACTEC.

E. The attorney verify they do not use outsourced services or documents in preparing and producing your estate plan.

By following these simple steps you will protect yourself and your family and make sure that your estate plan was not outsourced.

Note: no outsourced services were used or consulted in the preparation or writing of this article.

Bernie Greenberg

Federal law requires us to advise you that no portion of this article is intended nor can be used in any manner as tax advice. You are advised to seek the advice of your own attorney for your estate planning. Also, no portion of this article may be used in any manner in any attempt to evade federal taxes or tax penalties.

1 comment:

  1. If you have an estate, chances are, you have a family lawyer, someone who'd handled your family's legal concerns for years. That should be someone you can trust.

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