Engaging a trust and estate lawyer – Defining the scope of representation

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It is important for both client and the attorney to be clear about the scope of representation. In this context it is always necessary to find out in which capacity the potential client wishes to be represented, for example, as a trustee of an existing trust or as an individual who wishes to set up his or her own trust de novo, etc.

Equally important is to delineate what types of services the trust attorney is expected to provide. Why many trust attorneys provide general tax planning advice, only a few prepare their clients tax returns. Also, trust attorneys may be well prepared to provide investment advice in their area of expertise and render a number of other ancillary services. What can happen is that investment advisors, tax preparers, CPAs, and other professionals do not exactly know who provides a service or has primary responsibility to pursue a specific matter. Also, is the trust attorney expected to coordinate services between different other professionals or does the client wish to do so herself?

Describing the scope of representation is therefore a very important first step in a new client attorney relationship. The agreement should be in writing, signed by the client. Also, this document needs to be periodically reevaluated to see whether it still is in accord with possibly changed circumstances

See also: I have hired a trust and estate lawyer. Is (s)he my attorney for life?

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