Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Lawyers at Fault for Not Effectively Marketing the Importance of Wills?*

An article titled “Marketing Wills” is raising a mild stir among some bloggers. The article that appears in the Elder Law Journal, Volume 16, No. 1, 2008, suggests that many people die without wills because attorneys are not doing a good job of marketing them to the public. The authors, Michael McCunney and Alyssa DiRusso, propose that estate planning attorneys learn marketing basics and consult marketing experts.

This premise received a fair amount of attention on some legal blogs and at least one law firm marketing blog. The authors of these blogs disagree on the value of law firm marketing. I tend to take a more “middle of the road” view on the subject. Marketing the importance of wills might motivate some people to make an appointment with their estate planning attorney; however, for others it will fall on deaf ears. I agree with the view of the Legal Blog Watch to the extent that it states that most people are already aware of the need for a will. I disagree that the underlying reason that people do not have wills prepared is the cost. In most instances, it is not that expensive to have a will prepared.

As an estate planning attorney, I am aware of prospective clients who have mentioned the need for having a will, but have not followed through. They are aware of the importance. The cost is not prohibitive to them. It is just not high enough on their list of priorities. It may be that they do not see the urgency or it may be that they do not want to plan for their own death. It is not unusual to have a client make an estate planning appointment right before taking a long flight (overseas flights are very motivating for some reason).

* Thank you to David S. Bloomfield, Jr., Esq. for bringing this to our attention.

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