It takes time to do estate planning properly. This seems like it would be obvious, but sometimes I need to remind people of this fact. I do my best to accommodate requests from clients, even if they are last minute requests. However, same day and last minute requests only work if I have time in my schedule, and also require moving quickly to prepare and sign documents, which can sacrifice accuracy, and cause problems in the future. I want to treat my clients right, and same day / last minute requests can compromise the ability to make this happen.
Same day turnaround for an accurate estate plan is nearly impossible. My adventures in estate planning I share in this blog describe situations where client circumstances required a quick turnaround. Read on to discover the adventures that await. My previous blog regarding the last minute discussed mishaps that occurred in the last minute, but this blog will focus on successful, yet stressful, same day successes.
“Bring Everything With You”
My first meeting with someone is usually an information gathering and discussion session. By the time we are done with this first meeting, I have a good idea of what you life situation is like. We discuss what options are available to you, and we can decide together what is the best approach for you. Then, I can get the necessary documents to carry out your plan drafted. I can send them to you for review. And, we can get together and sign everything and complete the process.
Sometimes a client will ask me to compress this time frame. I had a client just this week who called, wanted to meet with me within a day or two, and wanted to have me bring everything necessary to get a Power of Attorney signed the same day. I had another client from a few weeks ago who had a relative call me, let me know they were in town for that day, and wanted to know if I could come by and draft the documents and get everything signed the same day. I understand that people operate on their own time frames, but such a compressed schedule request made for interesting adventures.
The client who called me this week had the following request: “Please bring everything with you so that we can complete a Power of Attorney when we meet.” The client left this message for me at 4:17 pm the day before a scheduled 11 am meeting. I was in a client meeting until 5 pm, and did not leave work until sometime around 6 pm, and did not arrive home until 9:30 pm. I checked the message at 9 am the morning of the meeting, as I was driving to my first appointment that day.
I wondered what he meant by “everything.” Should I go pack up my printer that lives in my office and try to bring it down and set it up at the client’s apartment? Should I have the Colorado Revised Statutes available for review and discussion? Did I need to make sure I had printer paper, all of my notary supplies, and my computer, so that I was ready to print everything, and get it signed on the spot. What about the timing? I only had an hour scheduled for the meeting, and then I needed to be off to another appointment; what if it took longer than the time I had available?
Fortunately, I was able to discuss what we needed to do to get the Power of Attorney written, sent out for review, and signed within a couple of days, and not the same day. I explained the part about not wanting to transport the printer that weighs 75 – 100 lbs and is 3.5 feet in height with me, and the client laughed. Because I had a slower week, I was able to schedule the client for a singing date the day after my initial meeting. I was able to accommodate this client, but only because my schedule allowed for such a second meeting.
Often times my schedule does not allow for a meeting within a day or two, or even the same week. This is a natural outgrowth of having many clients and lots of people to help. I sometimes worry that I am losing my personal connection with clients as I work in a busy week, but I also realize that I can maximize the time I have with clients when I do meet with them. So, the personal connection survives!
Previous Meetings Don’t Reserve Your Spot in Line
Last month I received a call from the relative of a client who had met with me approximately 5 months ago. I gave the client a list of information I needed when we originally met, and let the client know some questions that needed answers before I could complete my work. The relative who called informed me that they had the necessary information and answers and that they were ready to proceed that day. He told me they had time at 2 pm and wanted to meet with me.
I informed the relative that I already had an appointment at 2 pm and I could not simply move the appointment. The relative seemed annoyed, asking if that client had met with me more than 5 months ago, like his relative had. I calmly explained that the appointment was not made more than 5 months ago, but that the appointment was set a week or two before. This meant that the schedule was set before the relative had called me. I also explained that my entire day was already scheduled, so we would need to look at another day.
The relative then let me know that they were leaving town the next day and that they needed to get the will done today, as their relative was willing to work to get the will done that day. Apparently, they had been in town for several days, and only now thought it was a good day to call me. I said I would let them know if anything changed, and went about my day.
I ended up getting a cancellation for mid-afternoon that day. As soon as I got the cancellation, I called the relative and set up a meeting. It meant I had to drive from Littleton to Broomfield, and then back to Aurora, but I was able to get them in. I met with the client and the relatives, and clarified the information they had for me. I was then ready to draft the document and get it signed, but I did not have time to complete the work at the initial meeting, especially given the travel time I had increased by coming to meet with them.
Fortunately for my client, I was able to make the drive quickly, draft the will, and send it to the client and his relatives for review. And, I got all of this done within 30 minutes of completing my next meeting. I also knew that if I hurried, and hit traffic just right, I could get back to Broomfield and get things printed and signed before I needed to be at my family commitments for the evening.
I was able to meet with the client and get the document signed that night. Even then, as we looked at the document, I had an “of” where I needed to have written an “or” in the will. This small error was not something I needed to point out to the client, as context was fairly clear that the word should be “or,” but I wasn’t happy that the speed of getting the document done left a slight error. I want things to be right for you!
In this case, as in all cases, I wanted to help my client. I found a way to help this client, despite my time constraints, but without the cancellation that same day, I don’t think I would have been able to get them in on the same day.
Just Because I Treat You Like My Only Client Doesn’t Mean You Really Are
I often remind my clients that just because I treat you like you are my only client when I meet with you, that does not mean that you truly are my only client. For those who remember my blog on being a DJ, how silly would it be to expect me to DJ in two places at once? That simply would not work, as there is only one of me. I put all of my time and attention into DJing the one event I am at, just like I devote all of my attention to the client I am currently meeting.
All of this is to say that same day turnaround is not the ideal way. If you have everything you bring me all of your information, we have a fighting chance, but still such turnaround time is difficult. If we have met before, and started a process, that is better, but still it takes time do prepare an estate plan. You are important, but you are not the only person for whom I work, so to quote Rod Tidwell from the movie Jerry McGuire, “Help me…Help you.”