Posted by Kyle E. Krull, Esq.
President, Integrity Marketing Solutions
LegalZoom.com can prepare your estate plan for darn near free and, if offered in your jurisdiction, they’ll even throw in free counsel from a real lawyer. Such a deal. Oh, did I mention that LegalZoom.com had a law professor review their Wills? His verdict: Them puppies are “airtight.”
It’s a pretty good sales pitch, yes?
Is LegalZoom.com to blame for hawking legal documents over the internet? No, we in the estate planning and/or elder law legal community are to blame.
Here are the twin problems, as I see them. And, in both instances the estate planning community has painted itself into a corner.
On the one hand, for decades some estate planning attorneys have programmed prospective clients to believe estate planning is all about estate tax planning. So, what happens when the estate tax planning “straw man” self-combusts and prospective clients see ever increasing estate tax exemptions or even the end of the death tax itself?
Question: How many of your clients over the past two years identified minimizing estate taxation as their top priority?
On the other hand, other estate planning and/or elder law attorneys have conditioned prospective clients to believe that it’s all about the documents. That, my friend, converted traditional estate planning from a personal process to be experienced into an impersonal commodity to be purchased.
As a result, in the microchip/internet age prospective clients started “shopping” for the cheapest stack of documents they could buy. After all, they were just looking for one of them there “living trusts” and its supporting cast. How does it feel going head-to-head with LegalZoom.com?
Given the reality of these twin problems, is there any solution, Kyle? Do you have any good news for me and my practice?
With a tip of the hat to Linus and Charlie Brown in their famous exchange during the classic Peanuts special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”: “Isn’t there anyone who knows what estate planning is all about?"
I do, Charlie Brown.”
It’s all about people…and their problems.
And, given the nature of people (all of us included), there are myriad “people problems” to anticipate, plan for and plan around. Once people understand that “they” may have a problem, then “they” are more likely to be motivated to make appropriate estate plans.
Enter The ESSENTIAL Solution® only available from Integrity Marketing Solutions. It’s a comprehensive marketing system, tested and proven effective in my own law practice. Every component of system is “people problem” focused. You will not find our content delving into the depths of estate tax intricacies or detailing the inner workings of various legal documents from powers of attorney to wills to living trusts to GRATs and beyond.
No, that is for you to explore and explain… when you have a prospective client warming the consultation room seat across from you. And, don’t be afraid to educate them, as long as you motivate them. The art and science of estate planning and/or elder law is the application of law to facts. But it’s a tender balance, my friend.
Shhhhh. Listen: People will not do what they don’t understand.
I have developed a unique process to help prospective clients discover the true meaning of estate planning. In fact, I will be teaching this unique process at the “The IMS Marketing Fast Track” Conference in Kansas City (and only ESSENTIAL Solution® attorneys are eligible to learn it). I will walk you through my unique process, step-by-step, and explain the who, what, when, where, how, why and so what throughout.
Teaching Point: Stop scaring prospective clients through marketing ploys featuring the toothless Abominable “Estate Tax” Snowman (think “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”) and stop selling “documents” (let the DIY crowd go online, since they wouldn’t appreciate the value of your wise counsel anyway)… and start having the more profitable and enjoyable estate planning and/or elder law practice you’ve always wanted.