I recently noticed a client in our office had something tucked under his arm. I greeted him and asked what he had. His response was, “It's my probate guide and I never leave home without it.” That really got me thinking.
I created the Probate and Medicaid guides about three years ago for our existing clients, because we were finding that many people were very overwhelmed and could not remember from meeting to meeting what we said. In fact, I had a case where I dictated a letter to the client right in front her and a few days later she called into the office indicating that she didn't remember what we talked about, but it certainly wasn't what was in the letter.
My team member asked a client if she remembered me dictating the letter in front of her, and she said yes. I understand that when we meet with clients who are going through probate and/or Medicaid qualification, it means that a loved one has either just died or is going into a nursing facility or receiving long-term care, probably for the rest of his or her life. This is a very emotional and stressful time and it is not reasonable to expect somebody is going to remember everything that you discuss.
These guides arose as a result of several of our team members suggesting that we create them in the practice areas where things are so overwhelming. I must say that it was probably one of the single most important and best decisions that we have made as a firm.
Clients in our Probate and Medicaid departments now have guides that tell them exactly what to expect in the process, who is doing what, and when is it expected to be done. It is something that I am finding more and more the clients carry with them everywhere, and, like our one client, they never leave home without it.
The guides were certainly not done because we don't trust our clients or that we don't think that our clients are intelligent, but because we acknowledge that the process that they are going through is extremely emotional and stressful, and it is just one small thing that we can do to help them to remind them of how to get to the end of the process and move on to the next chapter in their lives.
These guides have proven so successful that we have recently created one of the guardianship process. Thanks to that gentleman with his guide under his arm, and the fact that he never left home without it, for reinforcing the value of those guides.
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