ElderCounsel membership includes a document drafting system, ElderDocx®. We do not offer a set of forms. We do not offer a “one-size-fits-all” template that is national in nature. Instead, we help you build documents specific to your client's needs. Before you begin drafting a new document in ElderDocx, you choose the state you are drafting in to make sure any relevant state-specific information gets pulled into your document. We then provide a set of interview questions that build off of each other, depending on what the goal of your client is, i.e. asset protection planning for long-term care, step-up in basis for trust assets, continuing trusts for beneficiaries, etc.
From one EC Medicaid Asset Protection Trust® interview, you could create a multitude of different trusts, depending on how you answer each question. In fact, there are more than 100 interview options for this particular trust, each of which would alter the document content.
Once you have designed the trust to meet your client’s particular needs, it is assembled in Word. Depending on the options chosen in the interview, your client’s trust could be in excess of 50 pages. With ElderDocx, you can also generate a client summary that is approximately 3-5 pages with easy to understand language that summarizes important provisions of the trust or will.
There is no reason to burden a client with explaining every provision of a complex 50-page legal document – give them a summary and make sure they understand the summary before signing the longer document. By analogy, when you take your car in because it is not running properly, the mechanic may give you a general explanation of what happened, but they don’t ask you to crawl under the car while they show you every step they took to fix it. You trust them to do what they said they were going to do and to give you the result you hired them for. Your clients are no different.
Embrace documents that are long. Better yet, stop thinking about them as long. Most likely, a client has no idea what length a particular document should be; instead, they get their cues from you. Substitute “long” for thorough, or comprehensive. Your clients deserve documents that cover as many contingencies as possible, and that do not set them or their family up for an argument or court battle later. That is difficult to accomplish in a 10-page document. What provisions are you leaving out, and how will that impact your clients or their loved ones down the road? When we ask attorneys that question, the answer is that they don’t want to leave any important provisions out. The tradeoff is a comprehensive document. Since you aren't charging per page, it should not matter how long the document is, as long as it meets the client’s needs. It is up to you to make sure the client understands the value of such a comprehensive document, and ElderDocx has the tools to help you:
- A client summary – a short, concise explanation of the important provisions in the trust or will.
- An annotated document with footnotes that explain various provisions with legal citations.
- A trust summary and funding letter for the client and/or the trustee.
- A letter to the trustee with guidance on how to properly administer the trust.
- A letter to tax professionals explaining the various tax provisions in the trust. This document is dependent on choices you made in the interview.
If you start falling into the trap of believing that your clients want or deserve short documents, then companies who offer cheap, short online forms will become your biggest competitor. The documents you provide your clients are a reflection of your knowledge, your consideration of their situation and all possible contingencies, and are the delivery method for your advice. If you are giving your clients the best advice you can, then give them the best, most comprehensive documents possible and you’ll have a client for life.
To see ElderDocx in action, click here for a demo.