I Hate to Tell You This But the Customer is NOT Always Right

Kristen Marks

by Kristen Marks

Kristen Marks is a travel enthusiast, empty-nest mom to two young adult children, athlete, attorney, author, speaker, proud wife of almost three decades (to the same wonderful man!), and the founder of My Pink Lawyer®, Florida Estate & Legacy Planning attorneys. Kristen has been crafting professional estate plans for Floridians and their families for over 28 years.

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“I’m taking my car into the shop today to get new tires,” my mom told me on the phone.


Terry & Kristen“I thought you recently bought new tires.”


“I did about six months ago but there is terrible road noise in my car and I can hardly hear myself think. The dealer must have put on cheap tires so I’m going to have a tire store check them out,” my mom replied.


“Rather than tell them right away that you want new tires, explain the problem (road noise) and let them diagnose the issue and the solution. It may not be the tires,” I advised.


Now I know NOTHING about cars but one thing I have learned in my estate planning practice is that potential clients will often try to self-diagnose solutions without really understanding how estate planning truly works and if the solutions they are proposing will really “fix” their problem.


For example, a client who wants to avoid probate because they have heard horror stories about it or have had a negative experience with the courts will tell me off the bat that they want a living trust.


It’s true that living trusts do avoid probate when the trust is properly funded but trusts are just one tool in the estate planner’s toolbox. There are multiple ways to avoid probate and a living trust may not be the best solution for a particular client.


That’s why I always ask WHY they think they want X, Y or Z solution so I understand the problem they are hoping to solve or avoid. Then I diagnose their situation for myself (after reviewing their assets, the titling, their family situation, etc.) and offer appropriate solutions which may or may not include a living trust, for example.


My mom texted me the next day from the tire store.


“Well, turns out that it wasn’t the tires after all. One of my wheel bearings was about to go. The guy said I was lucky my wheel didn’t fall off on the interstate!”


Even if my mom had tried to tell the tire store that she needed new tires, a competent tire professional would have still diagnosed the issue for herself taking my mom’s recommendation with a grain of salt (which I often do myself--ha ha!).


The wheel bearing part has been ordered and my mom will soon be tearing up the roads again.


Heaven help us!


Kristen “Estate Planning Diagnostician” Marks


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