Quality Control in Estate Planning – How to Run Your Firm like it is Made in Geneva

Quality Control in Estate Planning – How to Run Your Firm like it is Made in Geneva. 

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Estate Planning Systems and Checklists

How do you maintain constant quality control in your estate planning practice?  Of course,  as an attorney you pay attention to the details, but can you be assured that you always catch everything?  How about your staff?  You can’t have an efficient practice if you don’t delegate, so how do you ensure that they maintain the same level of diligence?   How about new staff?  It can take years to properly train a staff person.  How can you get them up and running quickly, but also ensure that when you aren’t watching over them, that they are assisting you in a way that does not undermine your practice?  And when new issues arise and are identified, how do you resolve them so that the issue or mistake does not reoccur?

The answer is you have to have a system (many, in fact), and you have to be checklist driven. Even then, mistakes of one sort or another will arise, but when you employ dedicated systems and checklists, at least you are functioning on a consistent basis.  That’s the first step in quality control and to making your practice run like clock-work. From how matters are opened, to how they are closed, cradle to grave, you simply have to have systems and checklists.  Sounds great – right?  Right. Sure, no problem.  You have lots of time to do all that administrative work, refine it, update it and expand it as you see new areas of concern.  Okay, I get it, no one, or very few of us, have that kind of time.  Not to worry, New England Estate Planning has your back.

New England Estate Planning (“NEEP”), http://www.newenglandestateplanning.com is developing forms for lawyers in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, including checklists, and workflows (systems) to help make that dream a reality for every estate planning attorney because let’s face it, it takes a lot of time (and a particular type of personality) to put that together. It also takes a lot of experience.

Can you use the forms that NEEP provides and modify them to suit your needs?  You bet.  Will NEEP forms likely need to be adjusted to do that?  As we all have our own particular practices and ways of doing things, you should expect that forms that NEEP will offer will be there as a starting place.  Can you contribute (share) forms for other lawyers to benefit from?  You bet.  That is one of the main goals of NEEP; to create a shareware site for lawyers.

Do you really need a system and/or checklists?  Can’t you just wing it?  To answer that question, you might want to do some additional reading. Many people have written about the power of systems and checklists.  The Power of A System (http://thepowerofasystem.com/), by John H. Fisher, is one example.   The Checklist Manifesto (http://atulgawande.com/book/the-checklist-manifesto/) by Atul Gawande is another.  The short answer is, of course, you can, but if you had a choice, why wouldn’t you?

Who uses checklists?  Pilots, surgeons, architects, financial advisors (I hope), and accountants.  Professionals that take their work and the outcome seriously.  Professionals that believe that the only number of acceptable mistakes over 1,000 transactions is zero. At my firm, Brennan & Rogers, PLLC (www.brennanrogers.com), we use checklists because what we do is serious work.  Admittedly, it feels like our systems and checklists are always changing.  It’s a challenge, however, that I fully embrace.  I suppose that is why they call it the practice of law, but,  recently, I have come to a place in my life’s practice where I simply don’t see the need for each legal generation to have to recreate that wheel from scratch.  Too much is at stake.  If you believe avoidable mistakes are acceptable, then don’t be checklist driven.  However, if you think that is crazy talk, then it is time to get serious.

If you are an attorney licensed in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, you can pre-register with New England Estate Planning. It’s free to register.  It’s anonymous.  It likely won’t be the final solution for all your needs for estate planning, but as a shared base for many attorneys, it may provide you with a good foothold to start your way to a better practice, a more efficient practice, or a safer practice

Today we are attaching a sample deed review checklist. Deed Review Checklist. Maine

Happy Drafting and Happy Holidays!

About Smilie G. Rogers

Smilie is an elder law, estate planning, probate, and tax attorney at Brennan & Rogers, PLLC, with offices in York and Kennebunk, Maine. See www.brennanrogers.com. Licensed to practice law in Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire and licensed, but inactive, in Virginia. Smilie is also the founder of New England Estate Planning, see www.newenglandestateplanning.com, a fledgling website with the stated purpose of sharing legal knowledge and know-how, including automated forms, with and among estate planning lawyers.
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