I suppose in my case, there is a genetic link to my paternal grandfather. He was a country doctor in Califon, New Jersey, and my father, then 14 years of age, used to drive my grandfather’s horse and buggy to patient’ homes all over the North Hunterdon County area to administer to them. Later on, my father drove a Model T Ford as chauffeur to my grandfather. My dad was a country lawyer, and there were many occasions when he would meet with clients at their homes in the small town of Flemington, New Jersey, where he conducted his law practice.
Fast forward to 2012, and I find myself making “house calls” to many of my clients and enjoying the experience. While there is sometimes reluctance among some people to permit invasion of their private space, I am finding more and more that people appreciate my willingness to come to them, in their familiar settings, to go over either Estate Planning, or residential real estate matters. A client whom our firm has recently begun representing, Quicken Loans, now makes it standard operating procedure for lawyers in our firm to do real estate closings either in the homes, or places of business, of their customers.
The closing experiences are varied. From time to time, they are downright uncomfortable, with rooms with poor lighting and limited table space the only available areas to execute documents. On the other hand, the Borrowers are almost always grateful that we have come to their “turf”, at times which are convenient for them, to get documents signed. Certainly, the current practice is a far cry from bygone practice, where the only time and place to close a mortgage transaction was at the Lender’s attorney’s office at a time designated by the attorney. Quicken Loan’s “back to the future” approach would appear, from my observation, to be catching on with many Borrowers, and I enjoy the challenge of making the closing experience pleasant and convenient. We are starting to make “house calls” for other Lenders, as well.
I have found that “house calls” works very well in doing Estate Plans as well. My normal procedure now is to send out a rather simple 4 page Estate Planning Questionnaire, by email, to prospective clients. When they fill in the blanks, and return the document, I get back to them with suggested documentation and a financial budget and time framework. If that approach works for them, I draft documents for them to review and submit them via the Internet. Once we have all the proper instruments agreed upon, we set a time for me to come to the client’s residence, and we execute the documents. The only responsibility the client has is to produce two disinterested witnesses to sign the Will, Living Will and Health Care Proxies. Many times I can bring my wife, who may have assisted me in the preparation of the documents, so that only one other disinterested witness will be required.
The practice of law in the 21st Century has changed considerably from where it was when I began practicing 44 years ago. There is much more opportunity to communicate via the Internet, and otherwise, and there are clients who have learned to appreciate the extra effort of “coming to them”. I almost always welcome the experience, as well, and look forward to coming to your home to assist you.