As estate-planning attorneys, we often find ourselves forced to act as family counselors for our clients—despite our lack of formal training for this role. In fact, the psychological aspects of our job are often overlooked and misunderstood, although they’re arguably more important than the complicated tax planning, asset protection advice and legal services we provide.
Our own practices impress upon us the estate planner’s need to address the psychological. In just two days, one of us recently was in all of these situations: meeting with two different client families to mediate estate disputes; celebrating a client’s wedding; attending a client’s funeral; paying a Shiva call for another deceased client; assisting in the hospital signing of “deathbed” estate planning documents; and participating in a fundraising event for a client charity.
This article, by Avi Z. Kestenbaum, co-chair of Meltzer Lippe’s Trust & Estates Department, originally published in Trusts & Estates, highlights the profound responsibility that estate planners bear in terms of changing family dynamics for better or worse.
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