To develop a comprehensive estate plan, you will need to share information with an estate planning professional regarding your assets, the value of what you own, your financial situation, and other personal information. This idea may make you uncomfortable, particularly in today’s climate of heightened privacy concerns. However, your information is protected under law and it is important to be forthcoming in your discussions with an estate planning attorney so they can most effectively enable you to reach the financial goals for you and your family.
In the United States of America, citizens have the right to privacy – to not have your personal matters disclosed publicly. Sharing personal information with a licensed attorney cannot be shared publicly as it falls under “attorney-client privilege”.
Your relationship with your estate planning lawyer is legally protected by attorney-client privilege. What this means is that any communication between you and your attorney must be kept confidential – lawyers may not disclose any of the information with another person or entity – and other parties cannot force them to disclose that information. The attorney-client privilege was designed to encourage clients to be open and honest when sharing information with the attorneys assigned to represent them, so that the attorney can then provide the best possible effective representation.
The attorney-client privilege remains in effect after your death. If your attorney-client relationship ends, your communications are still protected under attorney-client privilege.
The attorney-client privilege applies when the estate planning attorney is serving in a professional capacity, not, for example, if your friend is an attorney and you share information and ask for advice. That being said, the privilege applies when you, as a client or prospective client, communicate with an attorney regarding legal advice. Privilege applies to oral and written communication that you can reasonably expect to be maintained private. You, as the client, can waive the privilege if you so choose. Your attorney, however, cannot waive this privilege, and must keep all of your information confidential.
At Altman & Associates, we understand your privacy is important. Sharing personal information regarding your finances or your family members can be uncomfortable. We understand. We safeguard your privacy and documents, and openly discuss with you how this information will be used for purposes of designing estate plans that are tailored to suit your needs. Estate planning is an essential part of long-term planning; don’t put this off due to concerns about privacy. Arrange a confidential meeting with one of our estate planning professionals to discuss your concerns. We have been helping individuals and families reach their financial goals for more than 40 years, developing estate plans, last will and testaments, living wills, powers of attorney, and other estate planning tools. Contact one of our estate planning specialists today at 301-468-3220 or online. We have offices in Rockville and Columbia.