What We’ve Got Here Is Failure to Communicate
One of the complaints I often hear from clients is that their former attorney (keyword former) could not explain issues and concepts in a simple and digestible manner. Our clients always leave a meeting with us with a clear understanding of their issues, options and expectations, and it’s always appreciated.
Here’s a fun yet simple example of how legalese is unnecessary in client relations: “Upon your death, if you die intestate, your estate will pass to your beneficiaries, per stirpes.” Of course estate planning attorneys will understand this, but who cares if your clients don’t.
Here’s how it’s easily explainable in English. If you die without a will (which is called intestate), your state will determine which family members inherit your property. Depending on whether your children are minors and whether the property is homestead (Florida and Texas), your estate will pass in part to your spouse and in part to your children in equal shares, with grandchildren sharing equally their deceased parent’s share. If you don’t have a spouse or children, it goes upwards to parents and laterally to aunts and uncles, before going downward to cousins.
Ultimately, it will go back up to great uncles and great aunts and downwards again to second and third cousins before going to your state if you don’t have any living relatives. It’s a commonly misunderstood myth that your state inherits your property if you fail to make a will. This example reveals that a simple legalese sentence presents a lot of issues to understand. It’s malpractice if you fail to educate your client so they can make informed decisions.
Another complaint I often hear all too frequently is how a client’s former attorney was too busy to keep them informed and in the loop. At Haimo Law, we understand that you are experiencing anxiety or discomfort by virtue of having to retain an attorney in the first place.
The last thing we do is keep you wondering what is going on. You should not under any circumstance have to call your attorney and ask them for an update on the status of your issue. It’s not just good practice and good client relations to keep clients informed and their expectations managed, but it’s required by the rules of the Florida Bar. It’s one rule that attorneys shouldn’t be complying with out of obligation. We do it because it’s important to us and it is much appreciated.
Please share your comments with us. It will help others.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose
YOU ARE NOT OUR CLIENT UNLESS WE EXECUTE A WRITTEN AGREEMENT TO THAT EFFECT. MOREOVER, THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN IS INTENDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. EACH SITUATION IS HIGHLY FACT SPECIFIC AND EXCEPTIONS OFTEN EXIST TO GENERAL RULES. DO NOT RELY ON THIS INFORMATION, AS A CONSULTATION TO UNDERSTAND THE FACTS AND THE CLIENT’S NEEDS AND GOALS IS NECESSARY. ULTIMATELY WE MUST BE RETAINED TO PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE AND REPRESENTATION. THIS INFORMATION IS PROVIDED AS A COURTESY AND, ACCORDINGLY, DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE.