Estate Planning:

Is it true Advisors should not be involved in Estate Planning since they cannot give legal advice​?

Matt Morris01-08-2023

Many people have misconceptions around estate planning. We want to clear up the myth that because advisors cannot give legal advice they should not act in a supporting role in their clients estate planning.

Advisors should always steer clear of Unauthorized Practice of Law. 

In doing so they must not:

  • Apply a legal opinions to a particular set of facts
  • Instruct clients on what they should do
  • Creating legal documents for clients

Legal advice involves taking the law and applying it to a particular situation. 

As a quick example advisors should always avoid wording that would start with:

  • “You should…”
  • “If I were you, I would…”

Advisors can provide quality general legal information without practicing law. 

There are thousands of resources online that provide good general legal information for people to consider.  Referencing that information for a client should use wording like: 

  • “Most people…”,
  • “It’s common…”,
  • “Here are some considerations…”

The reality is most mass affluent families only need good legal information to make quality decisions for their basic estate planning needs.

It’s also incredibly important that advisors proactively do three things:

  • Disqualify clients with complex needs and send those clients to an estate planning attorney.
  • Disclose that they cannot give their clients legal advice and
  • Document the client’s understanding and agreement if they want assistance from the advisor.

Encore assists advisors here by disqualifying many situations from our software.  We also provide advisors with considerations for disclosing and documenting their clients understanding and agreement.  Encore is not a fit for all clients.  Engaging an Estate Planning attorney will be the best option for some clients. 

We recommend even when working with an estate planning attorney that advisors stay deeply involved in assisting in the information gathering process. 

This delivers the best client experience and ensures their clients estate planning procrastination comes to an end!

Matt Morris

Matt Morris