I recently had a client apologize to me for laughing at and questioning my legal fee for a certain document. This struck me as quite odd. I had simply explained how a certain document could accomplish her goal, and let her know how much it would cost to create the document to accomplish what she wanted. Perhaps because I had explained a somewhat complex process in simple terms, but she scoffed at the quoted fee. She then began to look into the process involved, and wrote me an apology via email. She let me know that she had started internet research into the legal document we had discussed, and that she now understood it was not as simple as just filling out a form, as she originally thought. So, she apologized for laughing at the fees I had quoted.
She simply had not understood how complex what I had proposed putting into action would be to create, so she had questioned why I needed to charge the quoted fee. This client apparently believed that all I was going to do was fill out a form and that should cost significantly less than my quoted fee because it was just a form to be filled out. Once she started her own research, she discovered the complexity of the concept, and seemed to realize why I would charge the quoted fee. I like to think that her own research confirmed why I provide value and that my services are valuable.
Sometimes the value that I bring to an estate plan is simplifying complex concepts and complex rules for people I meet. By simplifying ideas and complex matters, I can help you understand what needs to be done without getting bogged down in all of the technical and legal terms. I can also explain what legal documents will say in terms that are easier to understand than the legal language required for the written documents of an estate plan. I can turn complex legal concepts into plain English for you. I find myself acting as a translator from legal terminology into language everyone can understand. The estate plan itself might still be based on complex statutes, concepts, and the documents may seem complex, but I can make it simple for you to understand.
Simplifying Explanations of Complex Statutes and Rules
The statutes and law related to estate planning can be ridiculously complex. The Colorado Intestate Statute, which describes what happens to your assets if you die without a will, is close to 70 pages when printed out. The Colorado Statutes covering the creation of wills, living wills, financial powers of attorney, and medical powers of attorney are hundreds of pages when printed out. These statutes do not even reflect the tax code sections involved both at a State of Colorado and Federal level. Those tax rules and regulations can get fiendishly complex. The statutes also do not account for the court decisions and case law that clarifies the statutes, or gives guidance on how to implement the statutes.
Not all of these statutes or clarification from the courts apply to you and your situation, but even knowing which statutes and cases apply is part of what I do for you. I take the ridiculously complex and reduce it to what you need to know. A large part of this involved listening to your situation and looking at what makes the most sense for you. If you are not looking to protect assets from future creditors, or looking to protect assets from future long term care costs, then we probably do not need to discuss irrevocable trusts and protecting assets from creditors, a nursing home, or the government. Those types of discussions involve amazingly complex concepts and rules that you probably don’t want to know! I have spent hundreds of hours reading the relevant statutes, tax code, and court decision, which is probably something you do not want to do, so I bring my knowledge and expertise to you and I also try to explain what you need to know, so that you do not get lost in all of the complexities of everything.
If your situation is not as complicated, and does not require explanations of complex asset protection rules, then there are still all of the other rules that are involved. I know you probably don’t care about all of the technical terms, the inner workings of an estate plan, or all of the statutes and cases that control how your estate plan should be done, even if it seems like your estate plan isn’t complicated. I still want to explain the estate plan to you in terms you can understand. That is how I can simplify complex rules for you and make those rules work for you in your estate plan.
Not Everything Can Be Done In Simple Terms, or In Plain English
When I draft the actual documents for an estate plan, those documents cannot always be in plain english like when I explain a complex concept to you. I need to write the documents in such a way that the documents will satisfy the client, other attorneys, judges, governmental entities and employees, or adverse parties that may read the documents. Since the documents are written to reflect and overcome the complexities of estate planning rules, and certain terms and words are necessary to satisfy the complex legal rules, confusing terms and confusing language, as well as specific legal terms need to be included in the documents.
The language in a document can trip people up some times, and the documents can look confusing after my simple explanations from out in person meetings. I sometimes find myself explaining the necessary legal terms of a written estate plan in simple language to you, without explaining every word, or every sentence of the legal document itself. I don’t mean to confuse you, but the written documents are not just for you, but are also for all of the other people involved, like your beneficiaries and heirs, other attorneys, judges, banks or other financial institutions, governmental entities and employees, or anyone else who might need to read and interpret the documents.
Sometimes Legal Terminology and Legal Words Need Translation for Simplicity
I find myself acting as a translator for my clients. When a client asks why things need to be so complicated, I explain that I speak English, Russian, and law. l translate law into plain English the same way that I can translate Russian into English. I usually let my confused clients know that even though they use the same words, English and law can be as different as Russian and English. If I started speaking Russian, then very few of my clients would understand me, so I use English. I speak to my clients in English, and write the documents for an estate plan in the language of law. I can then help translate the language of law in the documents back into plain English for clients, but the documents need to be in the proper language. I work hard to make sure my clients understand what they are doing, even if the language in the documents may be a bit confusing to a client.
Let Me Help Your Estate Plan Be As Simple As Possible
As an illustration of how technical language can be a hindrance to understanding things, I have a favorite Youtube video from Rockwell Automation that concerns a cabinet and how it works. The video just makes me laugh every time I watch it, as it is so over the top. The language is so confusing that it is hard to understand, and the video really shows how technical jargon can get in the way of understanding what you want done. I take the opposite approach to the one in this video. I take technical jargon and turn it into language that is simpler to understand for you. That way, we can get an estate plan that does what you want, while still getting you an estate plan that meets the legal requirements.