Letters to the Editor
Leave Estate Planning to the Professionals
As an estate planning attorney, I was very surprised to see in the July/August 2006 issue of The Docket, that, according to Matt Crouch, "[w]e’re all capable of drafting a will … ." In my opinion, directing every attorney who is a member of the DBA to draft their own will, and even the wills of their friends, neighbors and family members is very irresponsible. It is like advising every member of the DBA that, because they are a lawyer, they should feel comfortable to take on a personal injury, medical malpractice or criminal defense matter. I do not know what type of law Mr. Crouch practices, but I would never presume that I could perform his job without any training or direction.
I certainly agree with the message of the article that we must all take the time to plan for our deaths, but preparing a full estate plan includes much more than putting together a quick will that may or may not be drafted correctly. A part of my practice includes probate and trust administration, and trust me, I see a great number of wills and trusts written by attorneys who are dabbling in estate planning. More often that not, the document creates more problems and questions than it does answers, causing the survivors to incur additional expenses going to court to sort things out.
Preparing a thorough and legally binding estate plan takes expertise. The same amount of expertise required to defend someone in a criminal trial or represent someone in their personal injury matter. Clearly, the skills required are different, but having a law degree does not automatically make someone capable of providing adequate representation when it comes to drafting an estate plan. I believe that directing attorneys otherwise does a disservice to them. I appreciate your time and attention to this matter.
The "Where There is a Will" article was written in the spirit of "stop, take care of yourself and the people you love." It was my perspective on the benefits of taking time and getting a will. While I don’t agree with Ms. Johnson’s view/interpretation of the article or the underlying tone hinting irresponsiblity for suggesting that all lawyers are capable of doing such (see Rule 1.1), I encourage all different views on this. I was taught that all opinions, no matter how distasteful, have to be considered. I owe that lesson to my late father (yes, he had a will). So, if you have any opinions on this or anything else in The Docket, I strongly encourage you write a letter to the editor. Thank you for your time.