Talking About Estate Planning
Probate and Property, July/August 2004
By Jon J. Gallo and Eileen Gallo, Ph.D.
Jon J. Gallo is a partner in the Los Angeles law firm of Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman Machtinger & Kinsella LLP and chair of the H-2 Psychological and Emotional Issues of Estate Planning Committee.
Eileen Gallo, Ph.D. , is a psychotherapist in private practice in Los Angeles and vice-chair of the H-2 Psychological and Emotional Issues of Estate Planning Committee.
On successful completion of the bar exam in California, an applicant is admitted to practice as an attorney and counselor-at-law. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a counselor is a “knowledgeable person who provides advice and guidance.” Much of the advice and guidance that estate planners provide deals with highly technical issues, ranging from structuring marital deduction trusts to explaining the issues involved in choosing between a grantor retained annuity trust and an installment sale to an intentionally defective grantor trust. The American Bar Association and state and local bar organizations provide a great deal of continuing legal education in these technical areas. But clients also turn to estate planners for personal advice and guidance. Just think of some of the personal issues an estate planner needs to address: How and when should clients discuss their estate plans with their children? How can adult children who are worried about their parents’ lack of estate planning raise the topic? When the client (or the client’s child) comes to an estate planner to discuss a prenuptial agreement, what advice should accompany the agreement? And how generally should the estate planner counsel the client?