Now that I’ve been at my new job for a couple of months, here’s a little more detail on my day-to-day work.
People hire our firm for a few different reasons:
- They need estate planning. Usually they want to avoid probate, so they need trust-based planning.
- They want to protect their life savings from the huge cost of long-term care; they don’t want everything they’ve earned wiped out if they have to go to a nursing home.
- They are already in a nursing home (or needing another form of long-term care) and they need to apply for Medicaid while saving as much as possible.
- They are a veteran or spouse of a veteran, and want help qualifying and applying for VA benefits.
Of course, we end up doing other kinds of incidental legal work as well—real estate contracts and the like. But that’s the majority of what we do. As time goes on, we will probably do more of the work at the other end of estate planning: probate and trust administration after death.
So how do I accomplish what clients have hired me to do? The legal tool we use in nearly all of our work is the trust—particularly irrevocable trusts. A trust is simply the most flexible, most powerful way to control your possessions. Crucially, it lets you determine now what will happen to your things in the future. That’s what estate planning is all about—anticipating problems and using your legal power to prevent them.
So that’s what drives my work, but how do I actually spend my day? Right now my primary activities are:
- Learning—I’m still new to estate planning, so this is my most important task. I do a lot of legal research throughout my day.
- Meeting/counseling clients—Helping clients understand what we do and why is always part of the job. Getting information about their unique situation and goals is essential to doing my legal work well.
- Drafting legal documents—I draft wills, trusts, powers of attorney, personal care plans, etc.
- Business things—I’m one of two attorneys, so I have to be a part of developing business, too. This means marketing, networking, and improving our internal processes. (I’m quickly becoming the go-to technology guy.)
That’s an overview of my daily work and what it accomplishes. The only thing I’d add is: I still like it. I get to solve interesting problems in creative ways each day, and I can’t wait to learn more.