Often the lawyer is the last to become involved in an estate planning, especially if the individual relies on professionals such as accountants and investment managers. Even where the lawyer is approached by a client, basically to "give estate planning advice" as a whole, it is likely that the client has already seen a financial planner or life underwriter who has suggested to the client to take steps to put his or her affairs in order. It is important for a lawyer to find out the stage of planning at which the client has arrived, i.e., who has been giving advice already and the quality of that advice. As well, when specific advice has already been obtained, the lawyer preparing the documents needed to implement estate planning objectives must be fully aware of the advice already given, in order to make sure that the documents prepared and the plans implemented coincide with the advice already given. A client who, for whatever reason, whether cost driven or confidentiality driven, objects to his or her carious professional advisors dealing with each other, is doing him or herself a great disservice, and risking obtaining a result that does not achieve the initial goals.
Estate planning encompasses a broad area of consideration of taxes, investments, budgeting for retirement, education of children and grandchildren, and planning for financial and personal care decision-making in the event of mental incapacity. However, most individuals and professionals tend to consider that the making of a will is probably the central part of the implementation of any estate plan. For many, particularly those with high net worth, there are additional elements of an estate plan to consider, including family trusts, reorganization of family businesses to plan for succession, alter ego and joint partner trusts, and the like. However, in almost any instance, a complete estate plan will include a properly planned and prepared will. In the actual planning process, clients tend to enter it through a variety of means, by way of their contact with their accountant, investment advisor or banker, but in all cases, the actual preparation of the documents to implement the plan come back to the lawyer who will draft the will and any other related documents. At the same time, the lawyer who is the first point of contact in the process, due to the nature of the client relationship, needs to be able to spot the areas where other professionals need to be included in the process.