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Continued Education in San Antonio

By: Atty. Marcus Collins

Key Takeaways:

  • Many estate plans fail because they are not updated regularly. The law changes, and an attorney’s experience grows over time. An outdated plan may not reflect your current wishes or take advantage of new legal benefits.
  • We recommend a formal updating program for estate plans. This program should involve the attorney reviewing the law and your situation to see if changes are needed to your plan.
  • At the Estate Planning Center, we use a Client Update Program (CUP) to keep our clients’ plans up-to-date. Our attorneys attend continuing education events and network with other attorneys to learn about new legal developments and best practices, which we then incorporate into our clients’ plans.

In Illinois, every attorney is required to complete a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education about every two years. That is not to say that the attorneys who attend are required to apply what they’ve learned to their practice. At the Estate Planning Center, our attorneys take continuing education very seriously, and look for ways to apply the new things we’ve learned to our clients’ already-existing plans through our formal maintenance program (which we call the Client Update Program™, or CUP for short).

The “traditional” (what I would call “inadequate”) approach to estate planning does not involve a formal updating process. Every so often, the attorney might send out a letter to a former client and suggest that the client review their estate plan and contact his office if they felt they needed a change. This lack of any real updating is one reason why most estate plans fail.

I call this approach inadequate because of the multitude of changes that occur in the law and in the attorney’s experience. Some of the changes in the law are for the worse, but some are for the better. The hope would be that the attorney’s changes in experience (and education through continuing legal education (CLE)) would be changes for the better in the attorney’s practice. Sadly, though, most estate planning clients don’t have a formal method by which to benefit from the attorney’s change in experience (and gained knowledge at CLEs), or from changes in the law–or even to adjust for negative changes in the law!

At the Estate Planning Center, Curt, Sam and I see our CUP process as an opportunity to incorporate the things we learn in CLEs and network events–in which we learn from other attorneys’ experience, and mistakes–into our clients’ already existing plans (and, of course, into future plans, as well).

The Farmers’ Estate Planning Attorneys (Curt, Sam and Marcus) are members of the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys, a national group of attorneys who practice estate planning law similarly to the way the Estate Planning Center does, with a LifeSpan™ Three-Step Process, etc. Twice per year, the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys meets for “Collegium,” in which CLE courses are taught, and we are able to glean from one another’s experience to benefit our practices and our clients.

This spring (the week of March 3rd), Collegium was held in San Antonio, Texas. Some topics that were discussed were: SECURE Act implications regarding planning for retirement accounts, Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust strategies, the Corporate Transparency Act and Beneficial Ownership Interest reporting, ethics issues in the practice of estate planning law, and legacy planning tools, among others. Curt, Sam, and I have already been discussing (we were already discussing in San Antonio!) how we can incorporate what we learned at this spring’s CLE programs into our practice. We look forward to bringing these new changes and updates to our clients through our Client Update Program™.

Does your estate planning attorney have a formal updating program? If not, why not? Would you like your plan to be kept up to date as critical portions of the law change?

To learn more about our Three-Step Strategy™, our Client Update Program™, and our approach to estate planning, please sign up for our free, introductory workshop, “The Truth About Estate Planning™,” by visiting this link:

For more of our blog, The Legacy Pulse, please click here.