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The Ready.Set.Retire! Blog


The Retirement Success in Maine Podcast Ep 005 - Defending Your Retirement Success with an Estate Plan with Joy Trueworthy and Rachel Trafton

Benjamin Smith, CFA

Executive Summary

Retirement Success in Maine Abigail Doody

In this episode of The Retirement Success in Maine Podcast we are joined by Joy Trueworthy and Rachel Trafton, Estate Planning Attorneys at Rudman Winchell.   In regards to our priorities at Guidance Point, we want to highlight the importance of this episode for our clients and the public. Many people that we meet with do not have an up to date and structured estate plan in place. It was important to our team that this podcast highlight some of the reasons why people do not spend time on estate planning and mistakes they make as they think about what estate planning means.  Some of the questions we receive from our client conversations include: how should an estate plan change  for me during my life? What happens when a loved one passes away ~ what do I do ?  How is estate planning going to change in the future and how should I be thinking about it? What are some themes around estate planning in Maine? Give the show a listen to find the answers to these and more!

What You'll Learn In This Podcast Episode:

  • Introduction of Joy Trueworthy and Rachel Trafton [1:40]
  • Why is an  estate plan so important [10:00]
  • How does the estate planning process change as people age through their lives? [18:44]
  • Discussion about the structure at Rudman Winchell/Maine Elder Law and the services they offer. [25:52]
  • What are the 3 biggest mistakes made in regards to estate planning? [30:32]
  • What to expect when a loved one or spouse has passed away in regards to their estate? [44:03]
  • Discussion about the future of estate planning and how it may change. [49:30]
  • What does retirement success look like for Rachel and Joy? [58:45]


Rudman Winchell website

Joy Trueworthy's bio

Rachel Trafton's bio

Estate Planning & Elder Law Care at Rudman Winchell

The Rudman Winchell Estate Planning Blog

Listen Here:


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Ben:                 Hi. My name is Ben Smith. I'm joined by my cohost, the Lieutenant Sam Weinberg to my Lieutenant Dan Kaffee. How you doing today Curtis Worcester?

Curtis:              I'm well. How are you Ben?

Ben:                 I'm well. I'm really excited for today's show. We have just a really need for our clients all the time of ... We sit down with a lot of our clients for our first time and you start talking about lots of things I need, and so much is financial planning, and organization, and those sorts of things. And inevitably you ask the question about, "Well, all right, when's the last time you updated your will? What sort of estate plan is in place?" And it goes to, well, either they filled something out online or, "30 years ago I did this."

Ben:                 So we want to have this conversation about this idea of retirement success, right, through that lens, but there's need for having legal documents in place to support you to have the most fulfilled retirement you can.

Curtis:              Yeah.

Ben:                 So for that reason we wanted to have ... We have a really great relationship with our friends over at Rudman Winchell, so we have Joy Trueworthy and Rachel Trafton in here with us today. So we wanted to have them on the show, and to kind of talk about that as a need that we see every day with our clients. So welcome Joy and welcome Rachel.

Joy:                  Thank you.

Rachel:             Thank you.

Ben:                 So in terms of how we structure our conversations with these podcasts, one of the things we always want to do is just get to know you guys, right, as all of us have 2D, we have our bios on the website and people can read that. But I wanted to kind of get into each of you individually of well, why are you doing this? Why are you passionate about practicing in this area. So maybe we could start with you today, Joy, on this one.

Joy:                  Absolutely. Well, I grew up in southern Maine, and then when I graduated from law school came up to the Bangor area to work, and have been in this area since then. And originally, when I started out my career it was a little bit more litigation focused, family law, criminal defense, things like that. And some estate planning and estate administration. But over time, I found it to be not be as fulfilling, because it felt a lot of the time like I was helping people try and fix situations that were unfixable. There was just no way that they were going to be able to get back to where they started out.

Joy:                  And then about five years ago I had the opportunity to come to Rudman Winchell, and focus more on the parts of my practice that I enjoyed, the estate planning, the estate administration, learn about long term care planning. And have been happy here since, it's something where it's just really great proactive planning for people to be able to build something positive, to get things in their life more organized. And so that keeps me coming to work every day, and happy to be helping people.

Ben:                 Nice. Ounce of prevention versus the pound of cure, right?

Joy:                  Exactly, yeah.

Curtis:              Yeah.

Ben:                 Well Rachel, how about yourself, where you're from?

Rachel:             I grew up in Corinth, Maine, so not too far from here.

Ben:                 Really? I'm a Kenduskeag guy.

Rachel:             Are you?

Ben:                 Yes.

Rachel:             So that's where I live now.

Ben:                 Nice, okay.

Rachel:             Moved to Kenduskeag.

Ben:                 Excellent.

Rachel:             Moving towns over.

Ben:                 Yeah.

Rachel:             I went to school down in Portland, so I started at the University of Southern Maine doing social work, my mom's a social worker. I actually always knew I wanted to be an attorney, so I did social work undergrad, went to law school down in Portland as well. My husband wanted to come back up home, so I started looking in this area, and Rudman Winchell being one of the bigger firms was one of my first applications.

Curtis:              Yeah.

Rachel:             And honestly, it kind of fell into my lap, so I applied, interviewed at Rudman Winchell, and the position they needed was at the main elder law firm office, so I started there and fell in love with it, and I actually went into law school thinking I wanted to do family law, worked with a family law attorney for probably two years actually, during law school, and realized-

Ben:                 And define what would be family law? Like what-

Rachel:             Family law, divorce and child protective work.

Ben:                 Okay.

Rachel:             Which was great, but I certainly learned that I did not want to do that my entire career.

Ben:                 Sure.

Curtis:              Yeah.

Rachel:             So when I was applying at Rudman Winchell it was really just to be a generic associate, and-

Ben:                 Yep.

Rachel:             They kind of with my social work background they put me in elder law, and it is perfect. I love it, I love my clients, and I love that I still have a little social worker of a role along with the legal world, and-

Ben:                 We have a saying, we kind of have heard it in the financial planning industry a lot, is to be the best maybe financial planning customer service that you can see, is you've got to have a heart of a social worker and a mind of a capitalist.

Rachel:             Yeah.

Ben:                 And you kind of ... obviously you kind of have that together in the law side, too-

Rachel:             Yeah.

Ben:                 That's a pretty cool combo.

Rachel:             We definitely are counselors in this type of work, so ... yeah, they're hard discussions.

Joy:                  Yeah, I think there's a combination of you have your legal hat on knowing the law, but you're also a social worker, you're dealing with challenging family situations, and oftentimes you're a little bit of an accountant or a financial person too, in that you're helping people sort through what their assets are, and what makes the most sense for them.

Ben:                 So and maybe just to kind of ... obviously you both kind of got into this area, like this is where I want to be, and Rachel, you touched on it a little bit there, but why Rudman Winchell, right? Why was that the place that you said, "This is where I want to be." And in terms of maybe from a firm structure, but also maybe from what you see from a client perspective, like why are people choosing you as a firm, but also then ... why has that been the fit for you personally?

Joy:                  Well I think for me I find it to be really helpful and rewarding both for myself and for clients to be at a firm where there are people who are all so knowledgeable, and it really lets us take more of a team based approach for our clients, because we can say, "Hey, I don't know very much about this, but I know this other person down the hall knows about this, let's bring that person in to collaborate." And there are very few areas where there isn't someone at Rudman Winchell who knows something about them, probably a lot about them. And so that makes me feel comfortable that people who have different diverse needs, or I start to work with a particular client and then something else comes up in their life and they need something else. That makes me feel comfortable that I can kind of keep them with a firm where they're already starting to work, they have a relationship, people know them, they know us. And we can keep that bond going.

Rachel:             I think that's almost exactly the same for me. It's really nice to help a family through maybe probate administration, and then now this family has ... or the kids have this inheritance and they're not sure what to do next, and maybe they have a business, so we send them downtown to the business attorneys. I think specifically I'm in a smaller office, so I like that we have the big firm structure and it's 102 years old now, or-

Joy:                  Yeah.

Rachel:             So it's a very known law firm, and then I have my smaller firm, which we're a practice of Rudman Winchell, and it has a homey feel, which is really important to our clients, kind of going through the later stages in life, having a homey office and an easy access office is important to those clients, too.

Ben:                 Sure. And I'll say from our end, right, so when that situation that we started the show with, that client comes in and they say, "Hey, I have this estate planning need," that they've never really verbalized or maybe even actualized before, or thought about. And well, why are you having that relationship with Rudman, and we've kind of felt like we really appreciate the role that an attorney that kind of generalizes and does a lot of things really well, that there's a position for those sorts of people in the community, and they do a lot of great work. But there's times when maybe you need a little bit more specialization, that this person that's all they do, right, and this is the area they really know. But you're not at such a firm that you're just one of a thousand clients that they have in their portfolio that there really is a relationship building that's happening here, that they are thinking about you, they're getting to know you, they're getting to know you as a relationship. And they're positioning you, while this is a transaction, while they're helping doing the estate planning work, but it's meant to be a guiding thing over their life, and that they have a relationship with the firm and you as the attorney.

Ben:                 So I felt that from my perspective and my family members and the friends that we partner with on that. But I think that's something very personal and I'm very passionate about from my end, is because I'm sending people over because that's the experience that I received and that's what I want, right, is I want them to have that sort of relationship back and forth. Practicing and aligning your practices over time is pretty important, so I commend you guys for doing that. It comes through pretty clearly, so it's also great to hear that from your end that's why you love it, right, is you attract that sort of attorney because that's the type of practice that you do.

Joy:                  Yeah, I think it's one of the biggest compliments when somebody, whether it's they refer a friend or family member, or they have some other need that they come back a few years later, it's just great when people have built that relationship with you and they want that to continue, and I've been with the firm long enough now that I've had people who have come back around and I've just been happy to see them again, and sometimes I joke with people, "Well, if things go really well in your life you won't need to see me for a while," but if something comes up where they do need us again, then it's great to be able to have that connection.

Ben:                 Nice. Well what I really want to kind of get to in this episode with you guys is this idea of ... from our client perspective and what we're seeing out there, is there is a really big need for estate planning services, right, as I think it's the majority of the people that walk through our doors, and it might even be like nine out of 10 that are-

Curtis:              Yeah, it's up there.

Ben:                 Yeah, that are walking in, and they're saying, "I don't have anything in place if I pass away today," or I've had a situation where a former coworker of mine became incapacitated as they're looking to sell their house, and it was in both of their names. So having documentation and power of attorney that helps with those sorts of transactions, all of those things you don't know you need it until you know you need it, right?

Ben:                 So what would you, in terms of kind of walking through the door, what would be those barriers, right, is why haven't people ... maybe I'm talking to them at their late 50s, early 60s, and that's generally what I'm finding, but why haven't people gone through that at this stage?

Joy:                  Well I think the two biggest things, then we can kind of tease apart, if I were to simplify them down I would say misunderstandings of the law, and fear of talking about these kind of issues. I mean, I think for a lot of people they have never walked through an attorney's door to think about these things because they're kind of inherently a little bit unpleasant to think about.

Ben:                 Sure.

Joy:                  When we're having those conversations, we try to keep it as lighthearted as possible, but we're kind of inherently talking about what happens if the client becomes disabled, who will help take care of them, manage their finances if they can't, what will happen after their death, if they have children what are the relationships like between those children, how do we need to set up their estate plan in a way that will help with maintaining the family harmony. They may have the anxieties about what retirement is going to look like, and so I think there's ... even if somebody comes through the door, they may not have really thought through all of those things. And so sometimes we can, in an initial meeting, fully come up with a plan that the client feels comfortable with. Other times it takes a bit longer for them to process some of those things, and talk about them with their family. And until we can get to a plan that they feel comfortable with.

Ben:                 And it kind of goes through that lens of retirement success, right? I think some people think about this and they go, "I don't want to address that because I'm addressing that at my death," right?

Joy:                  Yeah.

Ben:                 They're very focused in on, "I don't want to talk about me dying, because that's very uncomfortable and I don't even want to think about that."

Rachel:             Yeah.

Joy:                  Some people seem to think, "Well, if I make up a will then I'm going to die tomorrow."

Ben:                 Yeah.

Joy:                  It's like no, that won't happen, but if you do die tomorrow then you'll know your family's protected, and things will get divided how you want them to be divided, and-

Ben:                 And I think that's the reverse of how we want them to think about it, right? We want them to think about well, hey, that if I did pass that I actually contributed to my family having happiness. That I actually contributed to them being well positioned, or receiving assets in a way that didn't lead to a fight, and lead people to get hard feelings, and that I wasn't that person that drove the wedge between my two kids. Right? Boy, those are the opposite as you go well, geez, I don't want to think about myself dying, but what I really don't want to think about is hey, I was a root cause because I didn't do something to put a wedge into my family, or any relationship that I have in my life. So-

Joy:                  Yeah.

Ben:                 I think as we're counseling people as well in that, is starting to reframe them and reposition how they're thinking about those sorts of ideas, right?

Joy:                  Yeah. And I think the example that you were giving a few minutes ago about someone you know who was in the process of selling a house and then had some health issues, I think a lot of people have a misunderstanding about if they're ... particularly if they're married, that their spouse will be able to do certain things on their behalf. And if it's something where it's like for example a joint bank account where either of them can draw from, then yes, you could use that money to pay bills, but if it's an account that's a financial account only in one person's name, or we're talking about something like real estate where both people would have to sign off on it, if it's something that has multiple people owning the real estate, then that may put people in a real pickle if there is a health issue and they don't have a financial power of attorney in place, or an advance healthcare directive in place.

Ben:                 So what would you guys, in terms of what you see on a lifecycle for retirement, so when do you think that people should be engaging you for estate planning, and kind of those pieces versus what are they doing? And again, what we're seeing is one thing. So how do you guys kind of ... how would you guys frame that? If you're to be smart about doing this sort of work, or putting together an estate planning package for somebody, when would you like to see them versus what are they doing today?

Rachel:             Well I think to start, estate planning should be done first when we have a family that has minor children, so that's really important to actually have your documents done. I have a lot of families that are like, "Oh well, we don't own anything yet, we don't have any assets to be putting a will together for." But picking who's going to make decisions for your kids, and the life insurance policy that might come in and be used for your kids' benefit, who's controlling that money.

Ben:                 Right.

Rachel:             So if a family does do that type of planning when they have minor kids, one of the things to do is to keep checking in. So if there's a change in circumstance the family should come in, including a death in the family, a divorce, new children. But especially every decade, so that's one of the five Ds that we go through. So every 10 years or so you should open back up your estate planning documents, laws change, families change, dynamics change. So initially that's what I would say.

Rachel:             I think retirement age is exactly the time to come in and see either Joy, or me, or another attorney to start thinking about the other things, so maybe some asset protection. Really just having a good plan of what the future's going to look like, and making sure your estate planning documents say that. So it's not just about coming in the first time, I think it's about coming in every 10 years.

Curtis:              Yeah.

Rachel:             Hit retirement age, maybe every five years. And as you get older, we usually encourage every three years or so.

Ben:                 So maybe a good takeaway for that is in this day and age with ... I think there's a progression of life stage folks for the Boomers down to the Millennials, and Xs, and Ys. Is that I think we're getting more and more technologically focused, so one thing that we really try to do when we're organizing people, is like let's create calendar appointments. If it's on the calendar things happen, right, so it may be a good takeaway for people listening today would be if you have done your estate plan in a few years is maybe set that calendar appointment for, hey, in two years I need to do that and then just set it for every five years.

Joy:                  Yeah.

Ben:                 Just have it reoccurring and it's a Gmail account or whatever. Just a good thing is like, hey, I get a reminder, because I don't know, 10 years from now how the heck am I going to remember-

Joy:                  Right.

Ben:                 That I should go do that and when do we update this thing?

Joy:                  Yeah.

Ben:                 Right?

Rachel:             It's easy to tuck your documents away and forget about them.

Ben:                 And life is busy, right-

Rachel:             It sure is, yeah.

Ben:                 Hey, well, we just had kids and this is maybe the entry point for us to get really excited about doing this right now because we're really thinking about this and it's top of mind. And now the kids are 10 and they're in soccer season, and field hockey, and they're doing all those fun things, and we're focused on that, maybe not on estate planning, right? So-

Joy:                  Yeah.

Ben:                 Maybe a good-

Rachel:             Yeah.

Ben:                 Takeaway for those that are just kind of thinking about that.

Ben:                 Now, let's fast forward then in terms of life stages, right. So as people are getting closer to retirement, what we see for liquid assets, and physical assets is you're usually peaking your liquid assets generally at retirement, right, so you're ... because you're spending them down in retirement to live on. So you have kind of this peaking of financial assets usually at that point because of savings, and 401ks, and retirement plans, and such. Then how does that predicate for what you would see then, and in terms of estate planning rhythm? Does that change then where maybe in your career you're saying, "Hey, every 10 years, and then five and three." People may be thinking about that, the last 8,000 days I think is what ... there's kind of 8,000 days of four quarters, that last 8,000 days of how they're thinking about it and maybe there's more mortality thoughts at that stage. What would you guys say to that?

Joy:                  I would agree with that. I think that what planning looks like changes as people go through the lifecycle, so as Rachel said, when someone is younger, especially if they have kids, it's a little bit more focused on that sort of like what if a disaster happens kind of planning. Whereas if they are more towards retirement age, a ways after they've retired, it's more looking at what happens if they have some significant health issue before they pass on, and trying to plan for that. You're not just with who would be there to help them in that sort of circumstance, but also what are the finances of that going to look like? So that's something where we would be talking with them about what are their goals and preferences for what type of care they would want to receive in that circumstance, and how do we financially plan for that?

Joy:                  And with how expensive long-term care is, one of the things that we're frequently considering is how would we plan for a potential Maine Care application, if a health issue ever occurred? And that's working with really a pretty broad range of what sort of assets folks have, just again, because of how expensive that type of care is. So that might shift from a will that just gives everything to their spouse outright, to a will that has a trust for their spouse, that's more of a special needs trust in case their spouse becomes ill and is on Maine Care benefits. We might be thinking about what we call an asset protection trust to put some of their assets into that while they're still healthy. Things like that to plan proactively if that's one of their goals, and if those kinds of structures are something that they feel comfortable with.

Joy:                  And also just making sure that they have the most recent provisions in their financial power of attorney, because a lot of what we can do with asset preservation is really based on what their financial power of attorney says.

Ben:                 And one of the terms I just heard you use is this idea of asset protection. And that can mean different things to different people, but again, the name of the podcast, Retirement Success in Maine, right, so if you haven't done a whole lot planning around your assets and you get into a situation where it may mean that you are having to spend assets and you didn't really maybe legally protect them in certain ways ... We've had a situation with a client before that they were 66 and 67 and one of them got sick and it was kind of a short term illness that led into early onset dementia. And they had their whole retirement planned, right? And they were kind of looking at that and looking at all the assets were in one of their names in a retirement account and how do I protect my assets? Because well, one of us is now sick, and it was tragic and it kind of spread very quickly, but what about the other remaining spouse here? I mean, they're in their 60s and they're healthy, and they're looking at 30 years in the future. And by not going through and working with a team member like yours, you can run into this issue. Well, we could just spend all of our assets down and what's left for the remaining healthy spouse?

Ben:                 So from a retirement success point, is okay, that is terrible, it's tragic, and you want them to be cared for, but we ... and from our standpoint sitting with them, well, I'm concerned about two of you. I'm not just concerned about one of you. Which you in the spousal perspective is like, "I don't really care what happens to me. I want them to be taken care of and I want their health to the first and foremost, and I will eat tuna fish for the rest of my life if I have to do that." So you have this they're unable to maybe process that, and think about themselves.

Joy:                  Right.

Ben:                 And prioritize themselves in any way. And we've just seen that be such a need, and I know I'm using an example here, but that asset protection thing can sometimes be a penny wise, pound foolish idea that well, I don't want to work with an attorney because maybe I can't afford them, right? Or is it really necessary, do I really need this?

Joy:                  Yeah.

Rachel:             Of you've done the research online.

Ben:                 Yeah.

Joy:                  Yeah.

Rachel:             Oh, well, it says there are no options.

Ben:                 Right.

Joy:                  Yeah.

Rachel:             This is all I can do.

Joy:                  Yeah, and I think a lot of people are surprised when we explain to them this is what the Maine Care rules actually would be in your situation. There's a lot of stuff that's dependent on what is your medical level of care? Are you married, are you not married? What have you done with your assets in the last five years? But people are a lot of times really surprised how many options they have if they're working with an attorney. People who they may get advice from may be very well meaning, but it may not be something that's up to date anymore, or it may have been true for somebody in a different circumstance, but is it-

Rachel:             Or different for them.

Joy:                  Or different states.

Rachel:             Yeah.

Joy:                  Yeah, different states.

Ben:                 Yeah, yeah.

Joy:                  Yeah.

Rachel:             Yeah. I also ... if you're planning for a married couple, I agree, we don't want the spouse to be impoverished either if we're planning for one to need long-term care. But I have a lot families that come in and it's a single parent and they're widowed or not married and they're saying the same thing sitting with their kids. The kids are like, "No, mom, dad, it's your money, spend it on your care, that's what we want." But mom and dad are sitting there saying, "No, no, no, I worked hard and I saved this money as a legacy for my kids, and I want that money protected for them. That's why I worked, that's why I saved money."

Ben:                 Right, right.

Joy:                  Yeah.

Rachel:             Or, "That's why I kept the family house all these years was for it to go to my kids." So there's planning for single individuals as well with the same types of considerations. You don't know those are options out there and you've heard different things on Maine Care and long-term care planning, and the goal's to stay home as long as you can, but there's also services available in your home. So I think just the misconceptions about long-term care planning and the planning after retirement I think just kind of gets buried.

Ben:                 Yeah, and I think some of the episodes we've had so far has been all about, there's a lot of goal attainment stuff. Of like, "Oh, I'd love to do this, and I love to dream to do that." And what we're talking about is the same thing, right? Is we are talking about, hey, we want you to use that money to achieve not only just the survival things, but we also want you to achieve those things that I always wanted to do that I never got to do, and there's a higher and better purpose for money, or assets in order to achieve it. We're just talking about defending it, right?

Joy:                  Right.

Ben:                 So we're talking about defense, not offense.

Rachel:             Right.

Ben:                 And that's where it's pretty important to kind of play both sides, and I'm obviously using the sports metaphor here on that, but I think that's where it's really important that people only think about the offense side of like well, But from a defensive end, it's important to be both of those.

Rachel:             Yep.

Ben:                 And I think people forget it, right? And that's why I think where we sit in our role of hey, we want to be really good financial advisors, we want to be good investment consultants and do the best job for our clients. We need to be addressing that as a key piece, which is again, predicated on this today.

Ben:                 Switching kind of over, I want to just talk ... there's a unique structure with Rudman Winchell in terms of your firm. And you have a really great estate planning team overall, with you guys have some really great specialties and kind of working with that firm. Again, which is why you're there. But are there any misconceptions or misperceptions about people that go, "Hey, I hear there's like Maine elder law, and I hear there's estate planning," and can you talk about that and the play back and forth, and I know Rachel, you're more in the Maine elder law side, and Joy-

Joy:                  Yeah.

Ben:                 You're on kind of the formal estate planning side. But how does that relate across your team, again, intake, so someone says, I'm raising my hand right now, and "I need estate planning help, and I don't know where to go." How would they interact with you best and how would they make sure they get to the right person with the right need for them?

Rachel:             Great question.

Joy:                  Well years ago Jane Skelton worked at Rudman Winchell and then to, at that time, fully explore her interest in elder law she started her own boutique practice, and then it was about January 2014 that she decided for the good of her clients, for succession planning for her clients, for her staff, that she wanted to rejoin Rudman Winchell. And I worked for a year in her office before kind of different people, changing hats, I went to the downtown office where I've been the last four years. And so part of our department is at the Maine elder law firm location, part of it is at the downtown office. And we work together as a team on the same sort of issues and needs for clients. Some of us how more specialties in one area of the law versus another. But we collaborate together to get this work done.

Rachel:             Yeah. So we have one intake person, so when you call Rudman Winchell and you're asking about estate planning, or elder law services, and anything in this-

Ben:                 Calling the general line, right?

Rachel:             Spectrum.

Ben:                 So they just call the general line at that point.

Rachel:             I think either way.

Ben:                 Okay.

Rachel:             So the 947-6500 is actually located at Maine Elder Law Firm.

Ben:                 Okay.

Rachel:             But if you called the 4501 number, Rudman Winchell, the downtown office would send you over to us.

Ben:                 Right.

Rachel:             And that's because that's where our intake person sits.

Ben:                 Sure.

Rachel:             Just happens to be in my office. So she goes through and she collects some information, the first thing we do anyways, a conflict check. So she collects some information, gets to know the person and their circumstances, and then the really cool thing is we have five attorneys? Six?

Joy:                  Six.

Rachel:             Six, six attorneys in the estate planning elder law division, and we all like to do something different, our preference is something different. Really our intake coordinate just figures out which attorney you would fit best with, and she'll get you on the calendar. And then it really depends on the attorney, you might be meeting at the Maine Elder Law Firm office, or you might be meeting downtown at Rudman Winchell, but our documents are the same, we work together, and you wouldn't get anything different, you just happen to get the attorney who really loves the kind of work that you're there for. So ...

Ben:                 And in regard to then who you service, right, so and one of the questions, Joy, you and I have talked about in the past is geography, right? So if somebody's in Machias and they're saying, "Hey, I'd love to work with you," who do you service, I guess would be the ... in terms of geographic footprint for you guys.

Joy:                  It's really a pretty broad area, because for Rachel, myself, some other people in the department, the work that we do is pretty unique, there aren't a lot of people in central, northern, eastern Maine who do the specific work that we do with asset preservation, or the kind of particularly specialized special needs planning. So I would say the range of people who I'm used to seeing terms of geography, often people are coming from an hour away, sometimes they're coming from two hours away.

Rachel:             We certainly do phone consults, so you don't necessarily have to come to our office-

Joy:                  Sure.

Rachel:             If you're that far away.

Ben:                 Because there's enough situations anyway that people are saying, "Look, I'm maybe from Maine and maybe I'm living in Maine, and then wintering somewhere else,"-

Joy:                  Yeah.

Ben:                 "But the idea struck while at a cocktail party at my winter place."

Joy:                  Yep.

Ben:                 And I say, "But who I want to work with is ... I like Mainers, I trust Mainers."

Rachel:             Yeah.

Ben:                 "Those are my people." So I want to be connecting to that party, so that probably is the first good introductory step anyway.

Ben:                 In regards to the big mistakes, and so sometimes people go, "Well, I don't know what I don't know, and am I making a mistake, is there something I'm doing that maybe I'm not doing well?" What do you guys see from a-

Rachel:             How much time do you have?

Joy:                  Yeah, exactly. How many days can we keep talking?

Ben:                 Let's go top three.

Rachel:             Can I start?

Ben:                 Yeah.

Joy:                  Go ahead.

Ben:                 What are the big mistakes you think people are making with estate plans?

Rachel:             Fill in the blank forms or online forms. To be honest, I actually did see my first power of attorney that came from online that was correct, one out of my three and a half, four years here.

Ben:                 Okay.

Curtis:              Wow.

Rachel:             So most of the time they are not adequate, and they do not ... you don't tend to figure out that they don't work until somebody loses capacity.

Ben:                 Sure.

Rachel:             And at that point, our only other option is to go to court and get the authorities that your power of attorney should have let you do. So that would be my one big caution, is just because it's online and just because it says that it works in Maine does not mean it does.

Ben:                 And they're probably doing that typically because of price point, right?

Rachel:             For sure.

Ben:                 They might be scared of-

Joy:                  Yeah.

Ben:                 I think this is going to be too expensive for me to do.

Joy:                  To be honest, our basic estate planning package is cheaper than I think you would expect.

Ben:                 Okay.

Joy:                  So we can do a pretty basic package for somebody for a good price, so a power of attorney specifically is our cheapest document that we do, and probably one of the most important ones, so ...

Ben:                 And I'm not trying to pin you on prices, is there like a range that you could say, "It'd be something like this maybe?"

Joy:                  Well so, somebody who hasn't ever worked with the office before for this type of matter, for any other type of matter, we charge an initial consultation fee-

Ben:                 Yep.

Joy:                  That's $400. And certainly we don't pretend that's no money-

Ben:                 Sure, yeah.

Curtis:              Yeah.

Joy:                  That's a good amount of money, but usually with those meetings we're reviewing documents that they send us in advance, we might be sitting there for an hour, an hour and a half. Rachel, you'll need probably two hours.

Rachel:             We're the people who like to talk, so sometimes two hours.

Joy:                  And we're coming up with a comprehensive plan. And for some folks, that might be the only meeting they have with us and they just a want a general education, for other folks that's we're creating a plan and then moving forward with work. If it's somebody who has had a connection with the firm in some way before, we're usually charging that attorney's hourly rate for the time.

Ben:                 Gotcha.

Joy:                  And at the end of that meeting, the ideal is that we have a plan for what it is we're going to be doing for work. We write up an engagement agreement with the client right there in the meeting.

Rachel:             Yeah.

Joy:                  And so they know exactly what different documents are going to cost, what costs might come after that if they ask for more help, all those kinds of things.

Ben:                 Yeah, and I think that's a great thing that you guys are doing, I think there's a lot of price sensitivity to I sit down with you so yes, there's a $400 consultation fee that we're going through and I'm getting something out of this. But I don't know what I'm getting into. And from ... I'll age or date myself here, so I started in the trust department world in 2004. And it used to be that very complex trusts, and all these things going on, you're talking like $10,000 and up, or tens of thousands of dollars up for super complex things going on. And that's not the case anymore. It's kind of ... or, it can be, but-

Joy:                  Yeah. Well, I think it has simplified quite a bit in the sense that the estate tax thresholds have changed so much-

Ben:                 Sure.

Joy:                  That for a lot of people, the sort of basic planning is going to be a lot simpler. For example, if we're doing a crisis Maine Care application, somebody needs those services right now, they need ... because they're facing 10, 11, $12,000 a month nursing home bill. And so they want to get a family member on Maine Care benefits to help pay for that. That work may be pretty involved, it may be the equivalent of a month's worth of care-

Ben:                 Sure.

Joy:                  In terms of the cost. But then that person is going to be on those benefits, and then over time saving money. So I think it's important to have those kinds of conversations early and often in terms of what are things costing? Do you feel comfortable with this? Are we meeting your goals here?

Ben:                 Right, right. So that price sheet really helps that engagement-

Joy:                  Yeah.

Ben:                 Right, is they know what to expect before they're even getting into it, right? That there's this ... they know their cost sensitivity and what they're going to get out of it, and that's a very important outcome, right?

Rachel:             I think what's nice about our practice, too, is we are able to do what we call document preparation fees, or flat fees. So we have a price for the document instead of, oh, well, I'll charge my hourly rate.

Ben:                 Right.

Rachel:             Which is the standard attorney way to bill.

Ben:                 Right.

Rachel:             It's however much time goes into something, that's what you bill the client for. So we're able to sit down, you check the boxes, we can total it up, this is what it will come to. So that's a little more of a relief, you know what you're getting.

Joy:                  Yeah, and then if somebody is a returning client and we're modifying a document they had us prepare before, then usually they're coming to us with a specific list of these are the changes that I want, and probably that time then is more efficient for the client to do on an hourly rate basis.

Rachel:             Sure.

Joy:                  But we've already built that relationship.

Ben:                 Sure.

Joy:                  And they already have the trust there, that's why they're coming back to us to help with that follow up work.

Ben:                 So I know we started with like here's the question-

Rachel:             Yeah.

Joy:                  Yeah.

Ben:                 I think it was a mistake we went to pricing, which I love that we went to pricing though. Because from a barrier perspective, I think everybody's very sensitive to I'm not going to engage with you because I'm very concerned I can't afford it.

Joy:                  Yeah.

Ben:                 Right, and they just don't pass go because they can never get past that ideology, that thought that they just can't afford this.

Joy:                  Yeah.

Ben:                 And I know we talked a little offline a little bit before, it's the same idea about how people identify themselves of hey, I'm 85 years old, but I'm not a senior. Is this well, they just think they can't afford even if they have scraped that sort of money, because they've not really spent that level of money before.

Joy:                  Right.

Ben:                 They're just not comfortable spending any money.

Rachel:             Yep.

Joy:                  Yeah.

Ben:                 So they just make really bad decisions because they're just so frivolous on their costs there.

Joy:                  Yeah.

Ben:                 So that was number one.

Rachel:             Sorry. You want number two, Joy?

Ben:                 What would you say number two mistake would be?

Joy:                  Well I think sometimes folks are not really thinking in terms of all the consequences of who they name as co-owners on accounts, like who they name as a payable on death, who they name on beneficiary designations. And just a few quick examples, like for example somebody has put a trust for either their children, or for a specific purpose in their will, and then they want an insurance policy to go into that trust. Well, we have to have the beneficiary designation line up with that. If somebody wants their assets after their death to be managed be a specific personal representative or trustee, they might make that person the beneficiary of that account, or the payable on death beneficiary of that account. And not be thinking about well, that person's really trustworthy, but what if when I die they're in the middle of getting divorced, or they have a health issue, or something where they can't distribute that account the way that I would them to do?

Joy:                  So it happens quite a lot when I'm meeting with somebody, particularly somebody who's towards retirement age, or towards that demographic where they have already put at least some time into trying to get things organized, they may have had very good intentions, but I may be recommending they refresh some of that stuff, in terms of checking over the beneficiary designations, checking over do they have payable on death things set up already, and do those really match what we're trying to do with their estate plan.

Ben:                 Gotcha. Can I add the third? Can I take a shot-

Rachel:             Yeah.

Ben:                 See if you agree with me? So on our end, so we establish a need for estate planning, we've sent them over to you, you guys do a lot of beautiful work, and create the trust, or in some cases there's a trust that needs to happen. And then you tell them, "Here's what you need to do to assign property to your trust. And you need to fund it, and you need to have your trust own all of this property, otherwise it really kind of counteracts the whole purpose of it." Then we ask the question, "Did you actually do that?" "No. No." "Well, why did you go through all this and you go the ninth inning and then it just didn't happen?"

Joy:                  Yeah.

Ben:                 So the whole like deeding, and then kind of getting-

Joy:                  Yep.

Ben:                 Assets titled appropriately, and just what you said about the beneficiary-

Rachel:             Yep.

Ben:                 Pieces. And it's like, "Well, can we help you with that? Let's go." And they just, I don't know, they kind of feel like they've done it. That they've gone to you-

Rachel:             Right.

Ben:                 You've done the document.

Rachel:             Signing it's enough.

Joy:                  They don't want to think about it anymore.

Ben:                 Yeah.

Rachel:             Yeah.

Ben:                 So they're almost there, keep going, we'll cheer lead you on, let's do this.

Rachel:             Yeah.

Ben:                 And so we see that a lot.

Joy:                  I totally agree, and I'd say like for some people that like they feel like they've done the work, and so they want to be done, like I think it sometimes even goes a step further, they think just because we've written up the drafts, and we've sent them this document that has a big watermark on it that says, "Draft"-

Ben:                 Right.

Joy:                  Like it doesn't always connect with them they need to come in and sign that document, or sometimes too they'll take that draft to a notary and they'll sign it in front a notary, and we'll say, "No, no, no."

Ben:                 No, no.

Joy:                  That's bad. That's bad. But yeah, it's really thinking comprehensively, and it's really great when there is a financial advisor, or an accountant, or some other professional who's working with the family, who can make sure that those loose ends get tied up. Because sometimes they don't want to even pay a paralegals time-

Ben:                 Sure.

Joy:                  To help with some of those sorts of tasks, but if we don't make sure that those are made out properly, then it could really mess up their intentions with the estate plan.

Ben:                 Yeah. Because I think for our practice and how we're designing it is we kind of view this as, look, there's really three professional lenses that we think you should be surrounded with in retirement. One is legal, right, another one is financial, and then another one would be tax. So it's having those three things working together, and people talking-

Rachel:             Yeah, communicating together.

Ben:                 Yeah, and just everyone's communicating together of hey, well, the client is maybe having an emotional or psychological issue with completing something, we're all working to push them to making sure that things are getting down.

Joy:                  Yeah.

Ben:                 And from our end is there's lots of reasons why we interact with the tax professional, but also going backwards is like well, hey, if you're establishing a trust and there's a tax reason why you'd invest one way versus another, it's also dictating how we should behave with you. So it's necessary feedback. If we're trying to do the best possible job we can, we need all the information, and then back to you, if we've done a great, beautiful financial plan of here's all your assets and your inventory, and here's how to spend it down and think about, that speeds all that up for you, too. So I just find that really successful people that have really thought about this have usually put those three things in place.

Curtis:              Yep.

Joy:                  Yeah.

Ben:                 And they have really great relationships, that they trust those people, and they can go to them and they feel they can have an open and honest conversation about what they're facing in all those lenses.

Rachel:             And I think retirement age is the perfect time to put that team together.

Ben:                 Yep.

Rachel:             Then we're all there as you age.

Ben:                 Yeah. So it's kind of that interviewing of ... just what you said about intake and people coming to you, but it's also like, "Hey, I really get along well with Joy and Rachel," like, "No, they're here, I trust them, I really personally get along with them very well," so it's just understanding of not just an expertise perspective, but also from a relationship perspective-

Rachel:             Right.

Ben:                 Of who do you really like and who do you really get along with, and kind of ... because this isn't meant to be-

Rachel:             The trust, yeah.

Ben:                 A transaction thing-

Rachel:             Yeah.

Ben:                 It's meant to be hey, well, if you're 62 or 65 or 70, it's a 50% chance that people are living to 90 today. And it's a 33% chance people living to 95, so more likely you're going to have these relationships for a long time, and Curtis and I kind of laugh about well, and our ages can be a hindrance and a positive, but hey, when you are in your 30s and 20s here, of hey, we're here for 30 years.

Joy:                  Yes.

Ben:                 You're hiring somebody at 65-

Joy:                  Yeah.

Ben:                 And you're professionally trying to choose for the duration, well, probably in two years you're going to be forced to be right to that person, so might as well just start out with that relationship and finding the one that you really like.

Joy:                  Yeah.

Ben:                 Right, so it's again, kind of dynamic wise in terms of shopping, we kind of see that a lot. So again, I like that there's a certain age to your firm, as well, from you have seasoning, but you also you have that element to be around for their entire retirement.

Joy:                  Absolutely. I've had certainly some clients kind of give me that, "Well how long have you been doing this?"

Ben:                 Right?

Joy:                  But then I've had other people say, "Hey, you've been doing this a while, but you're younger than I am, and I know you're going to be here, and I know your firm is going to be here," and I think a lot of people do value that.

Ben:                 Yeah. So again, there's a little bit of the they expect a certain seasoning to you at all, or-

Joy:                  Yeah.

Ben:                 Expertise, and it's like at some point with an element or a demographic, most people are going to be younger than you. It's just the way it's going to be.

Joy:                  Right.

Ben:                 So it's kind of getting used to that fact as well and how you're identified.

Ben:                 I do want to ask another question, and this is something where from a client perspective we see a lot, is all right, so, say either a loved one or a spouse has passed away. And usually we're getting to notice, you guys are noticing that in some way, and it's just a really tough time psychologically, right, is here's like your partner in life, and they're no longer there, and there's so much to deal with emotionally with that, but what does that kick off from your end? So you've done all this work of all right, here's protecting your assets in life, and then in death. So what does that kick off from your side that someone should be aware of or be thinking about for like day one, week one, month one? How does that time element change, or impact them?

Joy:                  I think the first steps is just focusing on the healing, focusing on the time with the family. Some people, they call us the same day someone died.

Ben:                 Sure.

Joy:                  The next day after someone died, and they want to come in and meet the day after, and I mean, sometimes we can meet that quickly, but really I think it's better for that person to be able to have a little bit of space to start to process their loss. And to be able to get organized with what the different assets are, if there's something we need to be helping with reorganizing or collecting assets. And those are hard things to make when someone is so fresh with that-

Curtis:              Yeah.

Joy:                  Possibly very significant loss.

Rachel:             And if we do have to go through probate, if we have to get someone appointed as personal representative, there's actually no rush. So at some point there might be a gap in time where we don't have the ability to pay a bill that we need to pay, or something like that, and really, that's the time to come in and now let's get started. But there's no rush, it's not something that has to be done that month, or that week, or anything like that. So we can kind of put the brakes on and ...

Joy:                  Yeah, the only time marker is far, far out in the future.

Rachel:             Right.

Joy:                  Like if there was a will, a will has to be probated within three years to be honored.

Ben:                 Wow, okay.

Curtis:              All right.

Joy:                  And passed that-

Rachel:             I wouldn't recommend waiting that long.

Joy:                  Yeah, exactly. Yeah, we don't want someone to wait that long, but I think that a little bit of space and time to try and figure out, okay, what bills are out there that need to get paid-

Rachel:             Yeah.

Joy:                  What are the different assets? Like even sometimes with married couples, the surviving spouse may not know where all of the accounts were.

Ben:                 Yeah.

Joy:                  And we can have a much more productive meeting if there's just a little bit of time for that person to start to get that information organized. And then once we sit down, we just talk through with the person, okay, what types of assets were there? What had beneficiary designations? What was joint? Is there something that is a probate asset, something that was solely in the person who passed on, solely in their name? And that didn't have any sort of beneficiary designation on it, or real estate that was solely in that person's name. Then do you want us to help you with collecting that asset? Do you want to do that work yourself and then reach out to us if you need assistance, and just explaining okay, in this circumstance, this is what different things would cost, and then the client chooses how much assistance they want from us.

Ben:                 Do you think that changes from a spousal perspective to hey, my spouse died, to hey, my parent was the last remaining spouse, right, as-

Joy:                  Oh, yeah.

Ben:                 And we just had that this summer with like kids and the surviving spouse passing away. And the kids were all scattered all throughout the United States, come in for the funeral and they all had a week. "We've got to get this all done in one week." And we're like, "Well good luck to you," that's pretty tough to do.

Joy:                  Yeah.

Curtis:              Yeah.

Ben:                 But so I guess is that something that you're seeing from a they think it's going to be this quick, and they push it because they're trying to just fit it all in a physical trip? How do you see that change from that relationship?

Rachel:             Yeah.

Joy:                  Yeah, well, if we're talking about the first spouse passing on, then it might be that there's really no probate assets to collect.

Curtis:              Oh, that's true too.

Joy:                  And so a lot of people, if they're a married couple, either they own everything jointly, or they have beneficiary designations that says everything goes to their spouse. So there might be no probate estate in the first situation, in the second situation I think I'd just try and put the brakes on a little bit, like maybe we could have an initial meeting, and get a little bit of information, but that they're going to have to go out and collect some information before we can really come up with a plan, and that's where doing things by phone, or other ways, remotely, email, comes through because a lot of times people who are out of state are going to need our assistance, but we won't be able to file paperwork for them until we have all the information about what the assets and debts are.

Ben:                 Gotcha. We've talked a little bit about kind of some past estate planning things, right, and different estate level tax levels and how it's changed today. How would you, if you're looking forward 20 years, so somebody is 65 today, and how you think things may change in the next 20 or 30 years over the course of their life and their retirement? Or even, say, someone that's again those Xs and Ys that are younger right now, as they're thinking about getting to that point when they may be even doing more estate planning. What do you think ... there's kind of this speed and technology thing happening more and more, and you're seeing hey, there's a of mistakes around technology being made, Rachel, right? So what do you think going forward is kind of the future here? Like how does that impact the people, that population, but also then your practice?

Joy:                  Well, I'd say there's two different things going on, there is the incredible cost of long-term care, as you mentioned, we're living longer, so there is more of a likelihood that people will need some type of long-term care, and that's going to look different for every person in terms of how that plays out, and how they want that handled. But I think for people who are middle class, that's going to continue, and probably even increase as it may get more challenging to buy long-term care insurance, or plan in more private pay sorts of ways. They'll continue to be focused on that. And I think it's hard to say 100%, there's probably decades and decades of estate planning attorneys have said before me, hard to predict what will happen with-

Ben:                 Sure.

Joy:                  Estate tax planning, because it's at certain high thresholds now, but it's a really political sort of issue, and so it might go back down, the federal level is extremely high now, but that's due to sunset, will it get extended, won't it get extended, and so I think folks who are in the range of, say, 3.5, four million dollars and above need to continue to check in with an estate planning attorney about where that law is at.

Ben:                 Well, and don't you think, and this has kind of been a theme with some of our podcasts already, is this democratization of the internet. Hey, there's all this information out there, and it gets overwhelming, one, right, so how do you ... you can search, and you can find lots of different things, but here you have ... what you just said is look, the law is constantly changing because it is a political football that happens back and forth a lot. And you're reading things online, which if it was dated two years ago it's completely irrelevant to today. It's like things are changing so rapidly, and it changes by state. And it changes federally, and it's like how do you ... how would anybody even with all the information you could have stay up on it is pretty tough to do, it's a full time job, which is why you need a full time attorney to do it, right?

Joy:                  Right.

Rachel:             Yes.

Ben:                 So I'm making the case for you here, but that's similar, I think, across the board is this idea of well, because there's so much information, I can just do it myself. And I can just go find a form, and I can just ... well, that form was dated in 2009.

Rachel:             Right.

Ben:                 Right-

Rachel:             We've had two law changes now since then.

Ben:                 Those sorts of things, where I think there's a little scariness that people think well, professions are going to go away. I think there's even more need for it because of that, right, is that there's so much information and misinformation out there, you don't know what pertains to you.

Joy:                  Right.

Ben:                 And what's the best thing for me in this situation. So having somebody that knows and can apply it directly to your situation is pretty important.

Rachel:             I think law in general is changing, too. We're like doctors, if you have a foot problem you're not going to the eye doctor for that.

Ben:                 Sure.

Rachel:             So I think lawyers in general are going to start being a little more specialized than ... we might be a general practice firm, but each attorney in the firm does something specific. So if we are specializing in an area, I think it's important to consider that it's not as easy as the internet makes it look.

Ben:                 Sure.

Curtis:              Yeah.

Rachel:             We obviously have the ... went to school, and got degrees, and I think it's important to see the professionals.

Ben:                 But that's a theme, and just I've heard this tangentially here, is there's a theme, not only in just the law profession, but all professions, is we're in an aging state anyway, and you have an aging group of attorneys in the state of Maine, especially north of Portland. And there's a resistance to moving north of Portland. So Rachel, you're kind of a bucking of that trend to come back, but I think that's something where you have this exodus of people that are eventually getting out of their practices. There's a need for those replacements, and there's not a replacement there, so having a resource, and again, Bangor, for better or worse is a geographic center and people coming to that for whatever reason. But yeah, I think ... we have an office in Portland and in Bangor, it's kind of nice to have a population center that people are coming to, and they're looking for those sorts of services.

Ben:                 So I think we're ... I'm looking from a 20 year perspective too on the financial side, is hey, there's going to be a big need. The people that were generally practicing in certain areas and doing lots of different things, and there's nobody replacing them, so that local town attorney that everybody went to is going to be less and less available.

Joy:                  Yeah, and that's why some people say that they ... when they sit down with me, not that they don't personally like me, too, but-

Ben:                 Yeah.

Joy:                  That's why some people say that they come to Rudman Winchell because we have been around for over 100 years, and so that's a pretty good predictor we'll be around for a while longer, and they want somebody who will be there for the rest of their lifetime, for helping their kids with things that happen after their passing. And it just gives me good confidence that if I get hit by bus that I know that I have a great team of people who I work with, and there will always be somebody there to look after the people who I care about.

Ben:                 It's just practice continuity, right, is that there's-

Joy:                  Yeah.

Ben:                 If something happens to one person that it doesn't just disrupt the entire business, and the clients that, look, we're all fiduciaries for. We're trying to do what's in their best interest above our own. So having a practice where if you are key to their entire plan and you're no longer there, well, how can you really say that's in their best interest, right? That's a really tough thing to do.

Joy:                  Yeah.

Ben:                 So having all those systems and continuity pieces in place is pretty important.

Ben:                 I do want to ask you, so we're of course readers of the Rudman blog, so I'll plug that. But one of your blog pieces talked about Prince. Is that Prince died without a will. And I think before that it was Aretha Franklin, right? And so you kind of get these ... there's all these people with huge estates, and they have access to ... and money's not the concern with a lot of these folks, and they go, they don't have an estate plan. So I don't want to ... I want people to go read your blog, but what would you say be the barriers for them as well? Because I think that was an interesting kind of blog you guys wrote about that in particular.

Joy:                  I think that goes back to one of the things we were talking about earlier about the fear that people have to think about these issues. And sometimes people, they've never met with an attorney before, or maybe they have and it was a less than pleasant experience because it wasn't for a very good reason.

Ben:                 Sure.

Joy:                  And so they have a lot of anxiety, just the thought of coming to a law firm and sitting down with an attorney, and sometimes at the start of meetings, like peoples' body posture is just very tense, hard time making eye contact, and I think that one of the best compliments that I get from people is when at the end of the meeting they just physically look a lot more relaxed, like they've taken a deep breath and just relaxed their body, and they might make some comment to me about how this was so much better than they thought.

Ben:                 Right.

Joy:                  Or something like that, that makes me feel like they feel comfortable with the plan that they have come up with, and that we have built that connection there, so that if they need help in the future, they won't delay, delay, delay. They'll come back so that we can help them sooner rather than later.

Rachel:             Yeah, I think that's the easiest thing, is we might be on the list of priorities, but we're pretty low.

Ben:                 Yeah.

Rachel:             If you're feeling good, you're feeling healthy, we're pretty easy to bump off. You might do the financial planning first, you might open the new account next, you might go to the doctors next. But I think we're an easy one to keep pushing, keep pushing, and then, oh, no, I didn't do it.

Curtis:              Yeah.

Ben:                 Yeah, I think there's anxiety to all those interactions. I think there's a lot of unknown, and how I'm going to be treated, and I don't want to feel like I'm ... maybe I'm feeling dumb in a certain situation, or am I going to feel uncomfortable because I don't know what I don't know. And I think all those anxieties and fears, so it's like when you're really aligned with ... you'd rather have a tooth extraction than going to see-

Rachel:             Yeah.

Ben:                 Your attorney or financial planner, right?

Rachel:             Yeah. Even distrust of attorneys kind of in general.

Ben:                 Yeah.

Rachel:             Our practice-

Curtis:              Yeah.

Rachel:             Not always the best name. But they're intimidated by oh, this attorney's going to recommend a trust and those are big, scary documents and-

Ben:                 And maybe expensive-

Rachel:             They don't necessarily have to be.

Ben:                 Yeah.

Rachel:             Right.

Ben:                 So all those fears.

Rachel:             Yep.

Ben:                 Which is why I appreciate you guys coming in today here, and the final question we always like to ask our guests are for you personally, again, retirement success, how would you classify your own retirement success? So I'll start with you, Rachel, first.

Rachel:             You mean like what do I want to do?

Ben:                 Yeah, so if you were looking at the dust jacket?

Rachel:             Probably an easy answer, or what everyone says, is I'd love to travel.

Ben:                 Okay.

Rachel:             I'd love to have a good retirement from Rudman Winchell and my elder law practice, and carry on and travel with my husband, and maybe do some volunteering.

Ben:                 What's that bucket list of travel for you? Like the thing you always wanted to go.

Rachel:             Italy is number on my list.

Ben:                 Okay.

Curtis:              Italy, all right.

Rachel:             But really everywhere. Ireland-

Ben:                 Yep.

Rachel:             I'm hoping to check some of those boxes off a little sooner, but-

Ben:                 Sure.

Rachel:             Definitely different countries.

Ben:                 Okay, nice.

Curtis:              All right.

Ben:                 Joy, how about you?

Joy:                  I think just feeling comfortable that the things that I've done over the course of my career, that I have helped people and that I feel like there hasn't been something that I wanted to try that I didn't try. I mean, I'm a big reader, I go to lots of library book sales, and I buy more used books than I can possibly read. If you walked into my house you would see lots of bookcases-

Ben:                 Nice.

Joy:                  Of books that I have not read, and I still try and read a little bit every day, but I think my retirement is going to be a lot of sitting by my wood stove with tea and reading books.

Ben:                 That sounds fun.

Curtis:              There you go.

Ben:                 Well I want to thank you both for coming on the show today, it's always, again, a treat just to have that round table conversation about where things are at. So again, I think you both really well represented Rudman Winchell today, so I appreciate you coming on and sharing your viewpoints with the audience today, so thank you.

Rachel:             Thanks for having us.

Joy:                  Thank you.

Ben:                 It was really great to have Rachel and Joy on the show today. It was kind of fun to hear from their perspective kind of what they see from obviously the clients that we work on mutually, and kind of what they see from their own client base, again, this idea retirement success. What I liked from a takeaway of their idea of retirement success is the idea of defense.

Curtis:              Yeah.

Ben:                 And not just well, there's some fun things obviously you can be doing in retirement, and thinking about the living part, but also the protecting of living, and then a legacy after you pass.

Curtis:              Yeah.

Ben:                 Again, hard things to address, but very necessary, and again, from what I liked about having both Joy and Rachel here is just how approachable they are. They're very approachable, good listeners, good storytellers. So I think all those traits are very important when you're talking about someone that can be relatable, and making sure that the information that you're hearing, or they're trying to translate to you, that you relate to.

Curtis:              Yeah.

Ben:                 Is that you can see and understand what they're trying to say to you, it's not just all the, again, the legalese, and I'm going to have to need a translator to even talk to an attorney.

Curtis:              Right.

Ben:                 So that was a really good, again, summary conversation about the estate planning thing, retirement, and the changes that people are going to have to go through when they're in their retirement.

Curtis:              Yeah, it was really cool to have that conversation sort of from their point of view. Ben, we work with people daily and we direct them to people like Joy and Rachel, or we direct them to Joy and Rachel, but it was really neat to kind of hear about that experience from their perspective, not just us recommending them all the time.

Ben:                 Right.

Curtis:              Another piece that I really ... that stuck out to me was when we got talking about pricing, and just the idea of them doing that initial kind of consultation, sort of flat fee, I mean, I'm sure it obviously depends on circumstance like it should. But and then to be able to ... I think they referenced like a worksheet that essentially you can work through and check the boxes of what you need, whether it's a power of attorney, you want a will, or whatever it may be, and you'll know sort of what you're paying for when you leave.

Ben:                 Yeah, and I think that's really important because, again, a lot of the clients that we're working with, they've been very frugal their entire lives.

Curtis:              Exactly.

Ben:                 They've accumulated a level of wealth because they've been frugal with their money, and not paying for things that they might see as frivolous even.

Curtis:              Right.

Ben:                 And it is a barrier for people to get over this, and this isn't a frivolous cost. This isn't something that is just extra, like Rachel was saying, it's very low down on the priority list, and they view they can't afford it.

Curtis:              Right.

Ben:                 So affordability and that's so weird, I actually, when we were designing this podcast, you and I, purposefully didn't get into pricing because you never know how people are going to go with it.

Curtis:              Well, yeah, and-

Ben:                 But it was great that they addressed it.

Curtis:              Yeah.

Ben:                 Because I know that's a concern that ... again, you don't want to go to the restaurant-

Curtis:              Right.

Ben:                 And when you see lobster on the menu and it says market price-

Curtis:              Yeah.

Ben:                 And you go well, what ... you don't want to then ask and they tell you, "Oh, well the market price is $22." And then you say-

Curtis:              Oh, nevermind.

Ben:                 Nevermind, because then I'm going to not ... I'm going to show my table that I really can't afford it.

Curtis:              Exactly, yeah.

Ben:                 So it's this idea of I don't want to then get into a situation where it feels like now I'm obligated to do that and pay a certain price that I'm now uncomfortable paying.

Curtis:              Yeah.

Ben:                 So I love that, again, that they were able to go through that with this. And again, things vary, and things change based on complexity.

Curtis:              Right.

Ben:                 But pricing is a really important thing, especially with this level of service-

Curtis:              Yeah.

Ben:                 And what they're trying to accomplish.

Curtis:              Yeah.

Ben:                 And they're weighing that to the benefit they're going to get of protecting and playing defense on their assets. So again, that's a very important point that came out here.

Curtis:              Yeah.

Ben:                 So I want to thank you everybody for coming on and listening to the show. Again, I think Rachel and Joy and didn't a fantastic job representing, not only profession, but also Rudman Winchell as well. And kind of that work that needs to get done for people to protect their assets.

Ben:                 So if you want to find out more in terms of resources, you can go to blog.guidancepointllc.com/5. So and again, on that page you'll find more of the show resources that we were talking about today, including the Rudman Winchell site, and Joy and Rachel's personal pages as well. So you can find more there. And if you have any more questions, or want to reach out, please let us know, but we'll see you next time.

Curtis:              Until next time.


Topics: Pre-Retirement, In Retirement, Podcast