A senior lady sits waiting in the reception area of a robotics company in Cambridge, a city renowned for being one of the top three technology hubs in the world.Continuing from my last article, I believe that clients really want the estate planning attorney to help them meet their needs so that they can reduce their fear, anxiety and anticipatory grief in light of their knowledge of their inevitable death.

These needs include the desire 1) for the client to grow, develop and enjoy the most meaningful life possible; 2) not to burden friends and family; 3) to establish and build strong family/friend relationships, and to know these relationships will persevere after death; 4) to make the transition after death as easy as possible; and 5) to ensure that loved ones dependent on the client during their lifetime have security, sustenance and shelter.

Avoiding probate and minimizing taxes are not ends in themselves, but doing these things helps the client minimize any burden placed on survivors and allows for more available resources for the surviving loved ones’ care. When we shift our perspective away from lineal matters, such as probate and taxes, and focus on the natural, often non-lineal, human emotions underlying the needs of each client when deciding to make an estate plan, we realize that we, as estate planning attorneys, must develop an additional skill set above and beyond technical tax and probate law, and utilize “the softer skills of counseling.”

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