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Interview with Chantal Lafrenière

Resource Info

Summary Interview with Chantal Lafrenière
Published 2015

What results can I expect when I work with you to have my Will and Powers of Attorney prepared?

From the moment you begin working with me, you can expect that my full attention will be turned to your specific needs and estate planning goals. I have an unwavering commitment to helping clients and their loved ones plan for, and deal with, disabilities, incapacity, illness and death.

I want your experience working with me and the rest of our team to be nothing short of exceptional from the first contact you make with us to the final signing of your documents. You can expect to be treated courteously and professionally at all times.

You will receive comprehensive estate planning tailored to your unique situation. It may sound cliché but our clients tell us they feel a weight has been lifted off their shoulders when they know their affairs are in order.

I’ve heard that you focus solely on Wills, Estates, and Trusts.  Why are you working exclusively in these areas?

My career path has been anything but typical. From business ownership to practicing law to consulting, I have had the privilege to wear many hats and gain a wide variety of experience. However, my true passion revealed itself while practicing law at a busy North Bay firm in the areas of wills, estates and trusts.

I am a people person through and through. All of our clients have their own story to tell. I thoroughly enjoy connecting with our clients and serving them on a personal level. Practicing law is made very meaningful when I am able to help clients ensure their affairs are in order.

Focusing our practice areas has allowed our team to gain extensive experience and specific expertise in these areas. We are also able to stay on top of the latest developments in these areas of law. The end result is that we are better able serve our clients and meet their estate planning needs.

Who are your clients?

My clients are people who know that proper estate planning cannot be done in a cookie-cutter fashion. Unfortunately, many of them have worked with generalist lawyers who draft documents that do not address the clients’ needs or are incomplete.

The people I serve do not want to be rushed through the process and don’t want a ‘one-size fits all’ approach. They value a properly-tailored estate plan to fit their unique set of circumstances and the time and effort it takes to achieve this.

Whether my clients are young or old, healthy or not, single, married or ‘it’s complicated’, they want to have their affairs in order. This desire is driven by a concern that their loved ones be taken care of in the best way possible. They want to know that everything possible is being done to ensure their documents are clear, comprehensive and available when needed.

Some examples of the types of clients we work with at Persona Law Group:

  • newly-separated individuals whose changing family dynamic require special steps,
  • married or common law couples with children, or who are planning to have children,
  • people with a disability (or their families) whose situation requires special planning to preserve government and other benefits,
  • small business owners who want to rest easy at night knowing that their succession planning is in order, and
  • people who are getting remarried or are in a new relationship who now want to provide for a new spouse or partner while ensuring there is something for children of a prior relationship.

All of our clients want to know that if they become incapable, their affairs can be handled without undue stress, hidden cost, or unnecessary delays.  They want to make sure that after they are gone, their affairs are in order and that it is clear how their estate is to be distributed.

What kind of personality do you work best with?

The kind of person that I work best with values an open and honest approach. Communication is the cornerstone of any successful relationship and this is especially true of the lawyer-client relationship. I strive to be clear and honest and keep the lines of communication with my clients open at all times.

I am extremely conscientious in my work and expect my clients to be as well. A conscientious client will appreciate and want their estate plan to be given the time and attention it deserves.  They will understand the importance of providing me with all the information we request.

My clients also want to be actively engaged in the estate planning process. They do not want a quick, easy cookie-cutter approach. They want to participate in an effective, established procedure that will provide them with clear, comprehensive documents that meet their and their loved ones’ needs.

What kind of people do you not work well with?

I do not work well with people who are not prepared to engage with me in the estate planning process. Someone looking for a fast, cheap “one-size fits all” approach to their estate planning is likely not the best fit to work with me.

I’ve seen lots of ads for lawyers who do estate planning. What makes you different?

A unique combination of life and professional experience has given me an understanding of life’s many challenges. I approach the practice of law with compassion and an understanding of what it truly means to put the client first and deliver high quality legal service.

Estate planning often involves covering sensitive, personal topics that can be difficult for clients to discuss. I believe clients need our empathy, perspective and personal connection.

To put it quite simply, my clients are important to me. I value developing strong and long lasting relationships with my clients that don’t end with the signing of their documents.

I thought estate planning just meant signing a Will and whatever other things the lawyer said I need. What is it like to do my estate planning with you?

The process we have established for your estate planning is clear and step-by-step ….. to make it as easy as possible for you. When you schedule an appointment to meet with me, we will send you our Welcome Package that walks you through our process and gives you a sense of what it is like to work with us.

At your initial meeting with me, we will do an asset assessment and discuss your estate planning needs and goals in detail.

At the end of the meeting, I am usually able to provide a detailed explanation of the cost. We typically schedule your signing appointment within two to three weeks of your first meeting unless it needs to be sooner for some reason.

We will provide drafts of your documents to you a few days prior to your signing appointment so you have time to review them.

At your signing appointment, we will answer any questions that you may have.

My situation is really simple. What if I am not sure if I need all this process?

We hear this often.

Most people don’t appreciate the full range of opportunities that are available in estate planning and the problems and costs that can arise if it is not done well.

That’s where we come in.  After reviewing your unique situation and estate planning goals, we fully canvass the available options. We discuss the costs of each and allow you to make informed decisions.

The Estate Planning Checklist seems like a lot of work to fill out. Why is it so important?

I want to make sure that our initial consultation is of the most benefit to you. I simply cannot do a thorough review and provide you with the best advice and the full range of options available to you unless I have a complete picture of your unique situation and what you are trying to achieve.

We ask that you provide your completed Checklist prior to your initial appointment with me. This gives me the opportunity to review it and familiarize myself with your situation ahead of time so that we can make the most of our time together.

Do I really need a lawyer to do my Will? I’ve heard all kinds of ads for the Will Kit and other do-it-yourself (DIY) Wills and I’ve seen lots of sample Wills on the internet.  Can’t I just use one of those or even handwrite my own Will?

If properly done, DIY kits or handwritten Wills can produce a valid Will.

However, all too often these types of DIY Wills are done incorrectly. The result is that the person’s intentions are not clear or are open to different interpretations and could end up in court.  This can become a very burdensome and extremely costly process for your loved ones, surely not what you intended.

There is no ‘one-size fits all’ estate planning and do-it-yourself kits cannot be all things to all people.

I had a lawyer when I bought my house. Can’t he or she just do my Will?

The short answer is yes, of course. The lawyer that handled your real estate transaction might be more than happy to draft your Will and Powers of Attorney.

However, you may not be aware that much like doctors, lawyers often have particular areas of expertise. Just like you wouldn’t go to an ear, nose and throat specialist when you have heart trouble, you likely wouldn’t go to a criminal lawyer when you are starting a business or selling a house.

As the law becomes increasingly complex, we are seeing more and more lawyers developing a ‘boutique’ firm and limiting their practice to one or two specific areas. This allows them to gain expertise and specialized knowledge which is ultimately better for clients.

Before choosing a lawyer to work with you on your estate planning, what you need to find out is whether he or she understands the complexities of estate planning and will take the time to gather correct and complete information about you and your family, your assets, your unique situation, and what you are trying to accomplish before drafting any documents.  The lawyer you ultimately choose should have the necessary expertise, experience and resources to devise the estate plan that is right for you.

How can I justify the expense of a well-drafted Will and Powers of Attorney?

Proper estate planning is something that is an investment in the future and provides security for the most important people in your life. Signing a well-drafted Will and Powers of Attorney now avoids considerable expense and possible heartache later.

Will I see a return on my investment?

Without question, yes. In some cases, the potential savings in income tax and estate administration tax (probate fees) far outweigh the investment. In all cases, the comfort of knowing your Will and Powers of Attorney are done properly is invaluable.