When a lawyer permits a non-lawyer who markets living trust packages to hold out to the public that the lawyer will prepare the documents, the lawyer acts unethically.
When a lawyer permits a non-lawyer who markets living trust packages to hold out to the public that the lawyer will prepare the documents, but allows the marketer to interfere with the lawyer's ability to exercise independent judgment regarding the type of estate plan involved and other matters, the lawyer acts unethically.
The typical "Trust and Estate Planning and Financial Advisor" Seminar the financial marketer, insurance agent, or other non-lawyer who markets living trust packages to members of the public ("marketer") holds seminars during which the advantages of living trusts are discussed, and seminar attendees are urged to order a living trust. Members of the public are invited to attend the seminar free of charge. The marketer advertises the seminar in the local newspaper and in flyers delivered to homes in the area where the seminar will be held. Both types of advertisement strongly encourage seminar participants to attend the seminar.
During the seminar, the marketer describes the benefits of living trusts and repeatedly states that every seminar participant should have a living trust. The marketer does not discuss any other estate planning alternatives that might be appropriate for, or more in the interest of, individual participants. The marketer provides easy-to-complete questionnaire forms so that seminar participants can provide the relevant family and financial information needed to complete their estate plans. The marketer also tells the seminar participants that Lawyer will prepare the living trusts for them, respond to any questions they may have about the living trusts, and supervise the execution of the documents. Participants pay either the marketer in advance, or Lawyer when executing the documents. Immediately following the seminar, a participant orders a living trust. She gives her completed estate planning questionnaire form, which identifies her beneficiaries and personal representatives, and her payment, to the marketer. The marketer gives the form to Lawyer, who then prepares a living trust for the participant. Lawyer has no discretion to decide that something other than a living trust might be more suitable for the participant. Lawyer sends the living trust to the participant with a cover letter indicating that the participant should make an appointment with Lawyer to sign the documents. The participant executes the living trust at Lawyer's office. The marketer compensates Lawyer.Tags: asset protection, elders, financial advisors, financial Planners, life care planning, senior life care planning, trusts, wills, wills/trusts