Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Estate Planning Attorneys Surveyed

On January 15, 2008, the Sun Herald (Biloxi, Mississippi) posted an article entitled "WealthCounsel Announces the Results of Groundbreaking Survey of the Estate Planning Industry at Heckerling Conference in Orlando".

The referenced survey, conducted by WealthCounsel, LLC, compiled responses from experienced estate planning attorneys about their practices, the industry, and their clients.

WealthCounsel, LLC announced today from the exhibit hall of the 42nd Annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning the results of its 2007 WealthCounsel(R) Industry Trends Survey in a report entitled "A Look Inside the Estate Planning Industry."

The survey was designed to identify the challenges confronting today's estate planning professionals and to obtain a sense for the estate planning needs of American consumers. Approximately 5,000 estate planning attorneys were invited to participate in the survey during November 2007. * * *
The survey sought feedback not from consumers or institutions about their needs or expectations, but from estate planning attorneys about their practices, the broader estate planning industry, and their clients' overall motivations in seeking advice:
The results of the groundbreaking initiative captured feedback from nearly 500 estate planning attorneys throughout the country on topics ranging from future trends that they anticipate in the industry, to client net worth and psychographics, to the trade publications they read.

Respondents for the most part were seasoned practitioners with substantial estate planning and legal expertise. Seventy-five percent of respondents indicated they have practiced law for more than 11 years, and fifty-five percent have specialized in the estate planning field for more than 11 years. * * *
The article summarized key results:
  • 94% of practitioners believe that estate planning is an interdisciplinary function requiring collaboration among the attorney, CPA, and financial professional;
  • 93% believe that baby boomers will create a greater demand for services;
  • 73% volunteer with non-profits or civic organizations;
  • 60% said their clients engage in estate planning to avoid probate;
  • 40% said clients want to keep their children from mismanaging their inherited assets.

The article was derived from a commercial press release, which was reported identically by Forbes and PR Newswire.

An electronic copy of the report may be downloaded from the website of its issuer, WealthCounsel (PDF, 16 pages). The press release noted that a copy also can be obtained by sending an email to: marlene.frith@wealthcounsel.com.

The survey report remains a semi-promotional offering by a vendor. Still, it provides rare insight into attorneys' collective experience nationally, by compiling the views of one group of estate planning lawyers.

Its results may not accurately reflect our experience in Pennsylvania, however. Nearly 20% of the respondents practiced in California, and nearly 8% practiced in Florida, while only about 2% practiced in Pennsylvania -- that is, just ten PA attorneys.

The survey report notes the intention to conduct such a survey annually for release at the Heckerling Institute.