Executing estate planning documents is not difficult but it does require attention to detail. Documents must be executed correctly to avoid problems that may arise when your client dies and it's too late. The following are guidelines to ensure that you execute your client's estate-planning documents in a professional manner:
- There are specific procedures for executing each document in your client's estate plan. We have provided detailed instructions in this section on a document-by-document basis. Review detailed instructions provided on the web for specifics about how to execute a particular document in the portfolio. If you have questions contact us immediately.
- You are the attorney's "eyes and ears" during the actual delivery of the completed estate-planning documents. Be sensitive to any extreme reluctance, confusion or undue anxiety from your client. Additional attorney involvement may be necessary.
- If there is any question about client's mental state or capacity do not execute documents.
- If you are a notary in good standing you may act as the notary where a notary is required. You must make sure your notary records are in good order at all times. You should keep your notary records for an indefinite period of time. Notary records are often used at time of death as evidence of a document's validity.
- Restrict your involvement to assisting your client with signing, dating and notarizing the documents which have been prepared by the attorney.
- You are not an attorney. Refer your client to us for answers to all legal questions. Refer to Things to Remember in the Client Interview for more information on how to respond to client inquires without engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.
- If your business model involves the sale of investment and/or insurance products during the delivery and execution of the client's estate-planning documents use a separate disclosure form to document that your role has changed from estate planner to product sales person. This disclosure should require the client's signature and be kept in your permanent files.