Monday, May 12, 2014

But My Banker Said It Was Okay.....Unauthorized Practice of Law

Weekly, if not daily, I find myself in a verbal or email conversation with a client in which I am having to explain why want they have done, or think they can do, is not a wise option.  Frustration on their part is evident.  Why am I telling him or her no when his or her banker, financial planner, sister, or fellow bus rider said they could.  Because I'm their lawyer, that is why.  They accept it, and I feel for them.  Why does it have to be so hard?  Because things get complicated quickly.

Add another person to your bank account?  You may have just stepped on the gift tax.  The IRS will not care if the banker suggested this move and thought it was okay.

Manage to add your daughter's name to the deed of your condo?  What happens when she dies, gets sued, files for divorce or bankruptcy?  Your financial planner probably never brought those scenarios up before encouraging you to get a quit claim deed to make the change yourself.

Relatives descend like a turkey vulture on grandma's house within 36 hours of her passing, there to "claim" what she said would be theirs.  The County Sheriff or DA will likely not care what Great Aunt Mary said when suggesting you all go in and clear out the house.  Theft from an estate is theft.

Most people, especially your financial team, aim to help, but inadvertently give poor legal advice.  As I say in my seminars, it is less expensive to get advice from a lawyer before you act rather than  hire one to clean up a mess.   Unlike your banker, lawyers are authorized to practice law.  Those who are not engage in the unauthorized practice of law:
Every jurisdiction in the United States recognizes the inherent right of individuals to represent themselves in legal matters. In contrast, the privilege of representing others in our system is regulated by law for the protection of the public, to ensure that those who provide legal services to others are qualified to do so by education, training, and experience and that they are held accountable for errors, misrepresentations, and unethical practices. 
Thanks for reading.....and note that a blog is not legal advice.  Please consult your attorney for advice specific to your situation.

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