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Caring For Generations

Estate Planning Attorney Explains the 4 Cs

On Behalf of | Mar 1, 2017 | Estate Planning

“Now comes the hard part,” Liz Skinner wrote in Investment News last year, when the Labor Department came out with new fiduciary rules for financial service providers. The DOL fiduciary rule, set to take effect next month, basically states that all financial advisers will be required to recommend what is in the best interests of clients when they offer guidance on 401(k) plan assets, individual retirement accounts or other qualified monies saved for retirement.

The term “fiduciary” is nothing new to us at Geyer Law. Lawyers are used to acting as fiduciaries for their clients, understanding the obligation to protect the confidences of clients and
potential clients and to avoid conflicts of interest that may injure them,” as explained in the William & Mary Law Review (vol.49 Issue 2).

“Lawyers do not have the option of looking out for number one,” is the way Fraser Sherman puts it in an article in Chron about attorneys’ fiduciary duties to clients. The attorney-client relationship is one of trust, and our actions are governed by the 4 C’s:

1. Competence
This describes how attorneys use specialized legal knowledge and skill on behalf of clients, keeping up with changes in the law, and referring matters outside their own specialty areas to other professionals.

2. Conflict avoidance
Attorneys must avoid conflicts of interest. Not only must the client’s interests come first, but conflicts of interest between different clients of the same attorney must be avoided (think ex-spouses, siblings, business partners who might wish to engage the services of the same attorney).
3. Communication
Our attorneys at Geyer Law know we must provide our clients with enough information to make good decisions. We understand the challenges, fears, and family dynamics that often come into play with legal issues, and so we are committed to being responsive to client needs in a timely manner, even offering  house calls and flexible appointment time in order to ensure that good two-way communication is taking place.

4. Confidentiality
Our clients trust us with their confidential information, and we know how precious that trust is. Confidentiality is essential in any fiduciary relationship, and when it comes to the kind of sensitive estate planning decisions that affect different family members, confidentiality is particularly crucial.
All professionals have a relationship of trust with their clients. At Geyer Law, where we provide counsel on estate planning and elder law matters including Medicaid planning, facility placement and financing, probate and estate administration, special needs trusts, guardianship, and advanced directives,– it’s all the “hard part”, all built on a foundation of trust!