Meet one of my fellow Wealth Counsel attorneys, Suzann Beckett. Suzann is a colleague who practices in Connecticut, and she recently posted to her blog this reminder of ethics guidelines as they apply to sharing confidential information.
Perhaps one of the least talked about aspects of working with a lawyer is the fear some of us have of exposing our personal lives to a total stranger. That reluctance takes a back seat in criminal law, where the process you are thrust into isn’t voluntary. But when considering the larger decisions in life, opening the books on a lifetime of financial acquisitions, debts, and concerns to a total stranger can lead some people to avoid involving a lawyer when making long term plans. Like most fears, the emotional reaction we have can be profoundly counter-productive. Sadly, it isn’t all that unusual for costly, irreparable mistakes to be the result of our attempts to keep prying eyes out of our business. The key is to be selective. When you plan for the future, you don’t necessarily want to show the records of your financial holdings to your hairdresser, or the guy who mows your lawn. But it would be a good idea to come clean with the IRS on an annual basis. And although it may seem counter-intuitive, the best way to maintain control of your wealth and property over the long haul is to have an open, honest discussion of your plans with a legal professional who has your best interest at heart. Whether you are buying a home, building a business, filing for bankruptcy protection, or planning for the handling of your estate, you want to be the person in control – and you want the decisions you make to be based on solid legal grounds, not a gut feeling that may or may not stand up when you need it to. Keep in mind that you are the customer, and the law is in a very real sense, a service industry. So rest easy when you think about laying open your books, and your plans to a lawyer. The Bar Association holds lawyers to a very high ethical standard. Like your doctor, your lawyer is required by law to keep your confidence. A responsibility that we take very seriously, and one that I find comforting whenever I sit with a client who indicates the slightest concern for the security of their personal information. When serving as your legal counsel, it is my responsibility to act with your best interests at heart. This posting by Suzann Beckett is a concise reminder that my counsel to you is for you and in your best interest. When offering counsel in my professional capacity, it is always confidential and it is specific to your needs.