Often when I speak to a group about our practice, I claim that we draft imperfect estate plans. This may not sound like a good marketing plan, but it is the truth. We don’t set out to be imperfect or incomplete. It is not that our analysis or protocol is lacking. Our imperfect plans are not the result of a lack of experience or inadequate communication skills, but perfection eludes us. What we produce are excellent estate plans, but never perfect.
Drafting a perfect plan would likely require that we be omniscient, that we know everything. While we do occasionally have clients who are sure they know everything, we do not. Pride goes before a fall, and the vagaries of life and human imperfection always play a role. We do not know the future, but we do know how to best plan for various versions of it.
It has been said that no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy. An excellent plan may be flexible enough to survive first, second, and even third contact with death, disability, and disaster, but a plan that is never reviewed or updated will eventually succumb to time and human frailty.
So what’s the take away? Experience not only informs us, but takes the edge off our pride and our misplaced confidence that we control people and circumstances. When the client and attorney communicate with the knowledge and humility appropriate to the task, they produce a well-thought-out, flexible, and carefully-worded plan. When documents are periodically reviewed and revised, the plan retains its strength and defies the dual assaults of passing time and changing circumstances. If you want perfection, perhaps you should take up bowling. If you want an excellent estate plan, call Jay Bailey at Bailey & Galyen.