Today, I had the pleasure of meeting a new client. Wonderful man, smart, educated, refined and a true gentleman. His live-in girlfriend was there also. She made her feelings immediately known about her opinions of estate planning. She was wholeheartedly against the use of a Trust as an estate planning tool. Why? I asked. She proceeded to state that ‘everyone’ has told her, including accomplished attorneys, that a Will is all you need and that having a Trust is a mistake. No other reasoning, just her opinion, based upon other’s opinions. She obviously believes herself to be an expert in the field of estate planning. A neophyte? Maybe. An authority has spoken! Every run into these types of people? We all have.
Continuing, she was belligerent to the point of interrupting the discussions with my new client and made remarks that made little to no sense as to the estate planning process. She stated that ‘everyone’ had great and impactful experiences with Wills and the probate process. There was no negativity in their experiences. I asked her a question. “Would you rather be in control or leave it to a court to determine the happenings of your estate. Her response was something to the fact that it doesn’t matter to her.
Her very apparent misunderstanding of estate planning is probably not that uncommon. Often times, those that do not understand and/or do not have the capability of understanding, take other people’s word as Gospel when it comes to a matter of which that person has no experience. Case in point, today. She may have looked on the internet and saw an opinion of someone about Wills and probate. Thus, since it is on the internet, it has to be true. Don’t get me wrong, the internet is a great source of knowledge, but it fails in two respects, ’Dr. Google and Attorney Google.’ According to Dr. Google, I have every symptom of leprosy! As to legal concepts, there are so many competing theories that no one can decipher what is up or down.
In each of my meetings, whether it be an estate planning or tax client, my main focus is to educate the client to the greatest extent without having them die of boredom. This way, we have educated clients that truly understand, not only the concepts, but also how it directly affects them. But, no matter what you explain to certain people, they have pre-conceived notions that they will not falter from. Regardless of reason or true fact, certain people believe that they know better than someone who is experienced and seasoned in their chosen field. The women I was with today, is the type that if her car is not running correctly and she brings it to an expert mechanic who tells her she needs a new timing chain will argue with the mechanic that the car just needs an oil change.
I have come to the conclusion that closed minded people will always be closed minded. Also, people that have an inherent distrust of everyone is a strong indicator of a lack of intelligence. So, trying to influence any of these types of people by using reason and facts are a waste of time. So, my advice is to stop trying to teach neophytes/authorities on everything (masters of none) and allow them wallow in their own ignorance.