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Everybody Speaks a Secret Language

A couple of weeks ago I took my car in for a service appointment because the car was all stutter-y and the ‘Service Engine Soon’ light had come on.  The service folks told me that the ‘ignition coils’ needed to be replaced and that the ‘valve cover gasket’ was leaking and also needed to be replaced.  When I picked up the car, the service light was off and the car drove fine – no more stuttering – so clearly the analysis of the problem and the solution were correct.  However, I left the service department a bit lighter in the wallet than when I went in and with no real understanding of what had happened other than my car had been broken and now it was fixed.

This started me thinking about the fact that everybody speaks a secret language.   If I knew how a car engine works, what the parts are, or how they all fit together, my experience may have made perfect sense.  But I don’t.  Terms like ‘ignition coils’ and ‘leaky valve cover gaskets’ are as foreign to me as ‘je suis confus’ (that’s French for, ‘I’m confused’).  The same holds true for other professions – think doctors, dentists and even hairdressers (what the heck is balayage?)!

Estate planning attorneys also speak a secret language that can leave clients puzzled about the advice they receive.  While you may not need feel the need to know exactly what your mechanic means when he tells you that you to replace the evaporative emissions purge control valve on your car, it is important to understand what your estate planning attorney means when she tells you that you need to name a successor attorney-in-fact in your durable Power of Attorney.

Estate planning is about the most important thing to most people – their family.  Understanding how the decisions you make in your Will, Trust, Power of Attorney, etc. (or that you fail to make if you do not have an estate plan) will affect the people you love is vital.  So the next time you are meeting with your estate planning attorney and she advises you to “convey your real estate to a nominee Realty Trust so that it can be used to fund your credit shelter trusts,” make sure she explains ‘the why’ of this to you and that you understand that explanation.  In the meantime, if your mechanic tells you that your car needs a new flux capacitor, you might want to look for a new mechanic!

February 2018

© 2018 Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC