How Much is that Will in the Window?


Holiday season 2013 has come and gone, but one theme reigns supreme, what gifts/items can we purchase for the best discount?  Retailers are masters at marketing and capturing the eye of potential buyers with signs, ads, or any such mass marketing campaign.  However, some of the busiest shopping days of the year are the days immediately following the holidays, rather than just those prior to.  Why?  Aside from your obvious reasons for returning gifts, there is one more analytical reason.  Mass marketing creates interest and the “must have” items of the year.  More interest creates more supply.  However, quantity does not always result in quality.

Unlike your standard toy or apparel item, an estate plan is not a one design fits all item.  Yet, many practitioners fail to convey this properly and as a result, many in the public have a simplified and faltered view of the individualized nature of each estate plan based upon an individual’s circumstances.  This blog is to help educate the consumer on a very simple concept.  Estate planning is truly an area of law where you get what you pay for.  Take for example the below picture:

We The People Document Preparation Services

This picture is from a storefront.  If you look closely, one of the advertisements states “Wills $199.”  Aside from this looking completely unprofessional and gimmicky, would you actually entertain buying this product?  My hope is that 100% of you answered no.  An advertisement like this can be for nothing more than a pre-drafted document where an individual merely fills in the blanks.  This document may or may not apply to the individual’s needs, wants, or goals.  Yes, it is cheap, but something like this, if completely wrong, could end up costing the individual’s family infinitely more in administration costs.

Contrast the above storefront with our firm.  Our hourly rates range from $235 to $460.  To help illustrate, let’s take my hourly rate of $275.  Therefore, a $200 will would result in approximately 40 minutes of my time.  Since it would take almost this much time to meet with a new client and then meet with the client a second time to sign the Will, there is really no time to even draft the Will, except to put in the client’s name and name of his executor.  There would be no individualization, no planning and very little sophistication.  It is not something I would allow myself to provide to the public because it would be more of a disservice then a service.

Estate planning should never be viewed as a one-size fits all process.  Every man, woman and child has different needs and goals and requires a document crafted to their individual circumstances.  Posting a sign in a storefront, or marketing mass-produced fill-in-the-blank forms is an imperfect approach to estate planning.  We at Altman & Associates view each client with individualized glasses and take a fresh approach to each individual that walks through our doors.  We take pride in our ability to do that.  No two people are the same so why should two client’s estate plans be the same?  That individualized approach does carry a higher up-front cost.  However, you get what you pay for.  Further, that up-front cost is offset by the savings incurred when that estate plan is put into effect upon death or disability.  Additionally, the alternative of cheap up-front costs often times can end up costing the family of the individual doing the estate planning multiple times over.  Discount shopping is one concept that should never apply to protecting and preserving oneself and their wealth.

–  Adam Abramowitz, Esq.

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