Helping Your Parents Make a Will

“It’s important.” Jeremy said to his boss. “I need to take the afternoon off to take my 83-year-old father to see a lawyer to make his will.”

When you take a person to a lawyer’s office, you need to understand the legal protocol. Even if you are paying for the visit, you may not be the client in the eyes of a lawyer.

Elderly relatives need help getting to legal appointments. You may be involved in a procedure which is a common sight in law offices across the country.

Why You Must Wait in Reception

When a person is making a will, you may have to wait outside the lawyer’s private office. I will explain why using our Jeremy as an example.

“My father asked me to be his executor,” Jeremy said. “I helped him fill out the lawyer’s information forms and drove him to his appointment.

When I arrived at the law office, I was surprised to be told that I had to wait in the lawyer’s reception area. I would not be present when the lawyer interviewed my father. On top of that, I was told I could not ask the lawyer questions.”

Jeremy wrote a letter to his father’s lawyer asking, “Was I right to be offended because I was told I could not be involved? I had, after all, booked the appointment for my father.”

Here’s the father’s lawyer’s reply:

Dear Jeremy,

Lawyers must always protect confidential client information.

It does not matter that you arranged the appointment or paid for the consultation; your father is the lawyer’s client. He is entitled to lawyer-client privilege. He must be free to privately discuss anything with his lawyer, knowing it’s held in strict confidence.

This information cannot be shared without your father’s permission.

Every Estate Planning Lawyer is Different

Each lawyer has a different way of dealing with their legal obligations.

Some may invite you into their office during the initial introduction stage of the consultation with a relative.  They may then ask you to step outside while the lawyer speaks privately to the parent or relative you are accompanying.

Other lawyers may prefer that you not participate in any way during the meeting.

Lawyers are obligated to keep discussions between them and their clients confidential. That means family members are excluded from meetings. In this case, the lawyer’s client is Jeremy’s father. His confidentiality must be protected.

What if Jeremy’ father asked his lawyer to allow his son to participate in the meeting?

Experienced estate lawyers ensure key information is received directly from their clients in private for good reason.

In the next post, I’ll explain what goes on during the client meeting while Jeremy waits in reception.