Over the past several months I have been kicking into high gear a dream of mine; to create a free, yep – totally free, automated estate planning platform for lawyers. Over the years, one thing after another has prevented this dream from moving forward but things have started to change. While a lot of work remains, New England Estate Planning (NEEP) will open for attorney registration on January 1, 2020! I hope the actual site will launch, even if in a beta format, in 6 to 12 months after January 1st.
Frequently asked questions are likely to be:
- Will this be open to the public? Answer: No. Only to lawyers licensed to practice in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.
- What forms will it offer? Answer: The forms library is intended to be more expansive than commercial products but less in-depth. Coverage will start with general estate planning documents (will, revocable trust, powers (financial and healthcare-related), letters, deeds, leases, specialized trusts, practice tools, and checklists. With time and contributions from participating attorneys, the library may be expanded.
- Is it really free for laywers? Answer: Yes!
- Will my information be safe: Answer: Yes, but you have to do your own risk assessment. The automated service NEEP will use has a dedicated commercial encrypted server. Answer files are only available to the attorney that creates them. Documents are delivered by email (in Word or PDF) or can downloaded as directed by the drafting attorney.
- Why are you doing this? Answer: On August 8, 2019, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court sent out a letter to the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar, the Board of Bar Examiners, the Maine State Bar, as well as others, that attached a summary of a report prepared by Justice Donald G. Alexander and certain members of the Maine bar that, among other things, addressed changes in the market for law and law-related services, the effects of technology on lawyers, the shortcomings of the traditional law practice model, the adequacy of legal training and ethical standards to support needed services to the public in the Twenty-First Century. That letter reflected concerns that I have been harboring, though in less detail, for some time and not just for myself and my practice but for the future of the practice of law. As a collective group, it seems we are falling behind the times. I believe that small estate and elder law practices, like mine or yours, serve a vital role in local communities but have to wonder if they will be viable businesses 10, 15 or 20 years from now. I believe that empowering lawyers, sharing knowledge and know how, is essential to the future of the practice of law, particularly for small firms and solo attorneys. I hope New England Estate Planning (NEEP) will develop into a collective shared space for lawyers and may help create new professional connections between the registered attorneys on the site and the professionals that I hope will advertise in the directory of professionals.
To learn more, please visit http://www.newenglandestateplanning.com. If you want to be reminded when registration begins, please email your name, bar number and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.