Estate Planning: Is Changing Your Will Easy?
One advisor asks:
My clients left a one-page document with my assistant. They wanted me to witness their signatures. They left a message saying the paper was a codicil to change their wills.
The clients had found the form online and filled it out.
Question: Should I agree to be a witness?
What you think?
This simple, one-page, harmless document can:
- change a designation on an RRSP or a life insurance policy
- create huge unknown tax liabilities
- disinherit a dependant
Any of these changes create legal exposure for advisors. Who do you think will be responsible if something goes wrong?
The simple answer: you should refer the client back to their lawyer. Acting as a witness to legal documents leads to claims of negligence, or worse.
But what if the clients say they won’t go back to the lawyer?
I can hardly blame some people when they tell me this.
I have read some wills that make no sense. The paragraphs go on for pages, with confusing legal terms. You can get a headache just trying to understand them.
Your job is to explain to clients why they need to invest in proper legal advice.
But some clients may not want to pay a lawyer.
So, how do you explain to clients that they need proper legal advice?
I wrote Estate to the Heart to make it easy to explain what clients need to know. It is a quick read in plain language.
Clients say it helps them understand how to plan their wills and estates for loved ones. I give everyone who comes into my office a complimentary copy.
Want to learn more estate planning secrets?
Have a question for Ed? Ask away.Posted In: Advisors, Estates, Wills On: October 17th, 2011