Estate Planning: The Drafting Process

When a client hires an attorney to work with the client on the preparation and implementation of their estate plan, one question that is rarely asked is:  “How does the attorney draft the documents?”

The follow up questions then become:

  • Does the attorney create his or her own forms, thereby drafting each client’s documents individually and tailored just to that client?
  • Does the attorney draft the documents, or does he or she delegate this responsibility to a paralegal or assistant in their office?
  • Who reviews the drafts before the client sees them?  Is it the attorney’s practice to send drafts to clients to review?
  • Does the attorney use a drafting program purchased from a third party vendor?
  • Does the attorney outsource the drafting of the documents to individuals in another state or country?

I recently received this email solicitation: “We assist U.S. attorneys and law firms in drafting of estate planning documents like power of attorneys, wills and trusts and help them gain competitive advantage & reduce costs to meet clients' expectations.” 

Before hiring an attorney to work with you on your estate plan, you should ask about the process the attorney uses in drafting documents.  I believe this is very important, primarily because many estate planning documents are flawed – either because they are inconsistent with the client’s goals/wishes or because the wording is unclear or just plain wrong.

We take pride in making sure that our documents accurately reflect our clients’ goals, objectives, concerns and unique family situation.  We consider estate planning a custom process where we first listen to the client, then make recommendations and prepare draft documents based upon the client’s needs.  At that point, we normally meet again with our clients to review the documents, make any necessary changes, and sometimes send another draft.  Note:  Only attorneys draft estate planning documents at Altman & Associates and we make sure that every document is reviewed by at least two attorneys. 

It is our goal, through this careful process, to make sure our clients understand the documents and their plan, and to make sure that the words are correct.

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