Have you ever witnessed something where you just thought, “Are you kidding me?” What do you think of these examples?

The first is about a client who passed away. The attorney called the family two days after the husband’s death and informed the wife that she had to come in and sign paperwork within a week or two. She was surprised by the urgency, but then asked the how much it would cost. The attorney said $84,000 based on the estate size. The client’s son called me and asked what would cause the urgency and if $84,000 sounded fair. I suggested he call the attorney back and ask what specifically required signing so quickly and if he’d charge by the hour instead. The son called the attorney back and found out there was nothing really urgent. The attorney just likes to “get started on things.” Also, the attorney wouldn’t do it by the hour, but would reduce it to $42,000 because they were a “good family.” The client wasn’t happy, so he called back again. This time the attorney said he would for $20,000 but no less. Now they were furious! For a “good family,” he tried scaring them into a false sense of urgency and dropped the price from $84,000 to $20,000 in a matter of 20 minutes and two phone calls. Are you kidding me?

The second case was with a financial adviser who had a life insurance product that was only a couple years away from lapsing. However, he told the client not to worry about it, “it would be fine.” Nope! The illustration clearly showed it that the death benefit was going to lapse very quickly. No question! But “trust me,” he told them. Are you kidding? The insurance company is the one who guarantees the product, not the agent!

The third case, Mom and Dad put a sweetheart deal in front of the farming heir. He should’ve jumped on the offer in a heartbeat, but instead thought the deal should be even sweeter. He felt his parents could live on less, his siblings should get less, and he should get more even more. I really wanted to say, are you kidding? “Put your pacifier back in and quit whining.”

The fourth case, I was in a family meeting and the parents wanted a clearly defined distribution. Their daughter in Colorado really concerned them with her history of greed. She had already talked about getting $400/acre rent and $12,000/acre land someday. Then during the family meeting, when the dad explained their goals and their plan, she said, “Dad, just give all of us kids the land. You know we’ll rent it to our brother for a fair price, and if we sold it, we’d be fair.” Her parents are supposed to trust her? Are you kidding me?

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Now I am adding a fifth example as I’m leaving a client/attorney appointment. The attorney steers them away from a revocable trust because he feels a will would be best since the family will end up with 98% of the $5 million estate. Hmm, do the quick math! Then I asked about potential court costs where they live with a will. The attorney tells them it would only be a couple hundred dollars. Then he has his assistant check, and she informs them it will be $10,000 with a will! Then he tells the client the current estate tax limit is $13 million or $14 million per person. Oops, It’s $11.7 million! Then he continues with three more statements that are completely false and concludes by telling them he knows what he’s doing because he’s been in practice for 40 years. Are you kidding me?

Do you think I just made these examples up? Are you kidding me?

Myron Friesen is the co-owner of Farm Financial Strategies Inc. in Osage, Iowa. He can be contacted at 866-524-3636 or friesen@farmestate.com.