Why are Client Care Programs Such a Challenge for Estate Planning Lawyers?

Why are Client Care Programs Such a Challenge for Estate Planning Lawyers?

The simple answer is because they are not easy to create from scratch. We know that first-hand –it’s taken us decades to create the systems and processes that we used in our own client care program. The Client Care Academy was a natural outgrowth of our sharing our knowledge with other attorneys. Like so many estate planning attorneys, we are glad to be able to help colleagues who want to make their practices better.

When we first heard about client care programs, we were told that there was only one way to do this. Files needed to be organized and coded in a certain way, documents had to be updated every two years, and trust administration costs had to be carefully minimized because otherwise clients would resist paying fees.

We only knew that an on-going relationship was the only way to provide a client care program.

We put the whole thing off for a good four years because that didn’t seem right. It sounded like a client maintenance program, not a care program. That was not what we were after.

Here’s what we were providing to our clients, for the most part without any fees for our time and knowledge:

  • Access – any time, anywhere, by phone, email and text. We’d even review forms for free. It only took a minute or two, right?
  • Education – We ran an annual seminar for our clients, and it was so successful, we decided to provide regular seminars for clients.
  • Full Document Restatements Every Two Years – We were told this was the key to a client care program, so we did it.
  • Tracking Assets – We used spreadsheets to list assets and paper files (this was in 2001).
  • Coordination with Other Professionals – We were getting calls from CPAs, financial advisors, insurance brokers, about our clients. We didn’t charge for our time.

All of these things were necessary, and they all took time. But a client care program that provides this level of service without compensation is not sustainable.

So why have we succeeded with a client care program, so much so that we developed the Client Care Academy?

One part was that our thinking was transformed when we realized that clients who valued our services were more than willing to pay a reasonable fee for a client care program. And that the clients who weren’t willing to pay for a client care program didn’t value our services and would never value our services.

But that was just one part of our success. If you want to know more, we are presenting our Foundations Workshop program on September 20 – 21 in partnership with WealthCounsel and ElderCounsel. If you are a WealthCounsel or ElderCounsel member, we invite you to register today and transform your own practice. Not a member? A final Foundations Workshop for 2018 after September is being planned, and we hope you’ll join us there. Learn more about the Client Care Academy here.