As I have previously mentioned, I referee high school basketball. As a referee, I see many different types of coaches. Some coaches are constantly yelling at their players, or at the officials. Others call out plays and let the players play the game. Some are quiet the whole time and make me wonder why they are even there. And some like to tell me how to officiate the game, as if I play for them! Some coaches even seem to want to enter the game and take part as a player, since the coach is fully confident they could do better than the players. I recently saw a news article where a coach entered a junior varsity game, impersonating a student-athlete…that did not end well for the coach. This may be the only strategy on the list of coaching styles that are truly terrible, as many coaching styles can succeed, but I can say with certainty that no matter what a coach’s style is – you need a good coach to be a good basketball team.
A good basketball coach has an overarching plan to win the game. The coach needs players to implement the plan, and the coach cannot do everything for themselves. Unless you are like the coach in the story above, the coach cannot take a shot, make a pass, or play defense. Instead, the coach needs to teach these skills and then rely on players to carry out the plan and the coach’s instructions. A coach needs to use the correct teaching methods, assemble the proper collection of players to carry out the plan, and adapt to changes as they come up.
An estate planning attorney is like your coach. The estate planning attorney needs to use the correct documents, assemble the proper collection of documents to carry out the plan, name the correct actors to carry out the plan, and adapt to changes in an estate plan. Usually changes to an estate plan come after an estate plan has been initially set up, and mostly change happens when a client’s life circumstances change.
Competent coaching is important in both basketball and estate planning. Without a competent coach, a team can quickly fall apart. A competent coach needs to keep track of many things, and cannot simply let some things fall by the wayside if they are important. The coach needs to have an overall understanding of the game, the players and plays at the coach’s disposal, and needs to implement a plan to address all of these issues. An estate planning attorney does similar things with setting up an estate plan.
You Need Competent Coaching – and Competent Legal Advice for Estate Planning
I have seen many high school teams who would play together much better if a coach would give proper instruction and proper coaching from the sidelines during a game. Some coaches seem to act more like fans critiquing players’ efforts, talents, hustle, desire, and talents. A good basketball coach is a teacher and a motivator of players. A good coach knows how to get the best out of the players, praising when needed, instructing when needed, and only criticizing when absolutely necessary. Finding the right balance is not an easy task. I recall the 2009 – 2010 season when the Denver Nuggets were playing the Utah Jazz in a playoff series. The Denver Nuggets coach at the time, George Karl, was unable to coach in the series because he was battling cancer. The lead assistant, Adrian Dantley, did the best he could, but you could see the team was not playing together as cohesively or as well as they had under their head coach. The Denver Nuggets lost the series, and were glad to have their head coach back next season.
As an estate planning attorney, my job is similar to that of a coach. I often have to instruct clients on how the law works, or how to structure an estate plan, so that the estate plan is successful in carrying out your wishes after you are gone. I gather information from you, ask you what you want to have happen in an estate plan, and then help you to set up the proper legal document and structures to carry out your estate plan. On rare occasions, I need to say “No” to something someone wants to do, but I do try to find a way to implement what you want in your estate plan. By listening to you, and fitting what you want into a correct legal structure, I can give you competent legal advice, just like a competent basketball coach steers his team in the right direction.
A Basketball Coach Needs to Be Aware of Many Aspects of the Game – and So Does and Estate Planning Attorney
A basketball coach has lots of things to juggle during a game. The coach needs to be aware of which players play each position, how tired each player may be at a given time, what time remains on the clock, how many time-outs the team has, which offensive plays have been working, and what has the other team been successfully doing – so that the coach can determine how to stop the other team. All of these aspects of the game need to be considered, and a basketball coach cannot simply ignore one area to focus on another. One area may be more important than the others at a given time, but no one area can simply be ignored. As an example, not from basketball, but from football, the Denver Broncos had trouble keeping track of the play clock this past 2022 – 2023 season. The crowd even took to counting down the play clock for the team. Keeping track of the play clock is fundamental to getting plays run on time. The coach of the team ignored this important aspect of the game, to the detriment of his team.
A good estate planning attorney will not simply ignore an important aspect of your estate plan. Instead, the estate planning attorney will likely have questions for you, and things for you to consider that have not crossed your mind. I frequently ask questions of my clients, only for them to respond that they had not thought about such a question, and that they are glad I asked the question. My experience with estate planning means that I have knowledge of laws and rules that may apply to your situation, some of which may not be familiar to you. I try to see the overall picture, not just of what happens to your assets after you pass away, but how do we get from here to there, and how do all of the parts of the estate plan fit together. We want your will, financial and medical powers of attorney, living will, and trust (if you have one), to work together. I have read some estate plans that contradict themselves. I try very hard not to do that! Instead, I have a view of all the aspects of estate planning, and help you design a plan that carries out your wishes without ignoring something important.
Let Me Coach You In Estate Planning, and Together We Can Win
Being an estate planning attorney allows me to act as your estate planning coach. Unlike a basketball game, where one team wins and the other loses, estate planning does not need to create winners and losers. You win if your estate plan transfers assets to whomever you choose, and you win even more if the estate plan allows your wishes to be carried out with a minimum of problems. I can help you achieve these goals as your estate planning coach – your estate planning attorney. If you would like to discuss how I can help you, please make an appointment by going here.