CLIENT: "I won't have a gay son as my beneficiary"...

  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Apr 06, 2011 3:15 PM GMT
    So I was in my office early this morning, preparing for several clients I will be seeing today, one in about 45 minutes. My assistant always gives me messages from any clients that had called or left message overnight.

    One of the messages is from a long term client.. actually one of the longest.
    They live in rural Kansas, the town where my father grew up and I have quite a number of good clients. I called her back and she told me that she was
    "disinheriting" one of her twin sons. I know both of her kids, they are in their early 30's.. both are very friendly, awesome to me and responsible with
    their lives.

    I was a little stunned, despite the fact she and her husband can be a little different about some of their decisions. She just blurts out "I'm not having a gay son as my beneficiary". Now let me say, I've heard a number of things over the years with clients and rarely anything said regarding sexual preference, except with my gay clients. I was totally speechless...
    She proceeded to tell me how he had come out to her and how "this was going to change the fabric of their family".

    She has no idea about me. What I said was... "Dustin" (not his real name)
    is pretty awesome. Are you sure you want to take this action after hearing this news. You are pretty upset, would it be better to give it a few days before doing anything"? She wanted to proceed. I told her she could change her beneficiary anytime... and I'm sending her the form.

    It really made me sick to my stomach, but my job is to do the best job I can for my clients and that isn't to interfere with personal decisions and it would inappropriate for me to interject my opinion, other than to be efficient with what I do for her. It still bothers me a great deal. What a way to start my business day!

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    Apr 06, 2011 3:30 PM GMT
    Ugh, like when I worked at financial institutions and had to look after anti-gay groups' funds. (This is back in Anita Bryant days.)

    -Doug
  • rnch

    Posts: 11524

    Apr 06, 2011 3:36 PM GMT
    Gawd, what an intolerant "something that rhymes with witch"!

    makes one wonder how a mother could be so mean-spirited to her own creation.

    one day she will reap the bitter fruit of her hatred.
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    Apr 06, 2011 3:40 PM GMT
    In punishing one son, she may very well loose the love of the other.

    -Doug
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    Apr 06, 2011 3:41 PM GMT
    I would probably have interjected something like "My brother is gay and I couldn't imagine letting him out of my life. Would you like to give it a few days to think about it?"

  • rnch

    Posts: 11524

    Apr 06, 2011 3:42 PM GMT
    meninlove said In punishing one son, she may very well loose the love of the other.

    -Doug



    or both


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    Apr 06, 2011 3:44 PM GMT
    I would have given her a very polite and informative verbal lashing about the consequences of her decision (possible suicide for her son due to emotional trauma, etc), then asked her to leave my office.

    Money/job does not come before compassion...at least, not for me. icon_wink.gif
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    Apr 06, 2011 3:44 PM GMT
    Religion sometimes brings the most barbaric behavior in people.
  • rnch

    Posts: 11524

    Apr 06, 2011 3:46 PM GMT
    paulflexes saidI would have given her a very polite and informative verbal lashing about the consequences of her decision (possible suicide for her son due to emotional trauma, etc), then asked her to leave my office.

    Money/job does not come before compassion...at least, not for me. icon_wink.gif



    i am assuming that the OP is an attorney?

    if so, then his duty to his clents is to serve their legal needs to the best of his abilities; NOT express his personal views to the client...unless requested.


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    Apr 06, 2011 3:48 PM GMT
    rnch said
    paulflexes saidI would have given her a very polite and informative verbal lashing about the consequences of her decision (possible suicide for her son due to emotional trauma, etc), then asked her to leave my office.

    Money/job does not come before compassion...at least, not for me. icon_wink.gif



    i am assuming that the OP is an attorney?

    if so, then his duty to his clents is to serve their legal needs to the best of his abilities; NOT express his personal views to the client...unless requested.


    icon_exclaim.gif
    Which is more important...his "duty" or her son's life?
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    Apr 06, 2011 3:50 PM GMT
    you did the right thing.
    Besides the guy is in his 30's, he can handle it . If he waited that long before coming out to her it was probably because he knew she'd have that kind of reaction .


  • rnch

    Posts: 11524

    Apr 06, 2011 3:52 PM GMT
    paulflexes said
    rnch said
    paulflexes saidI would have given her a very polite and informative verbal lashing about the consequences of her decision (possible suicide for her son due to emotional trauma, etc), then asked her to leave my office.

    Money/job does not come before compassion...at least, not for me. icon_wink.gif



    i am assuming that the OP is an attorney?

    if so, then his duty to his clents is to serve their legal needs to the best of his abilities; NOT express his personal views to the client...unless requested.


    icon_exclaim.gif
    Which is more important...his "duty" or her son's life?



    paul, TRY to get a hold on your emotions!

    being disinherited will not end the son's life....inherited wealth can be as much a curse as a blessing.

    also, she may be as financially deprived as she is ethically deprived.
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    Apr 06, 2011 4:03 PM GMT
    paulflexes said
    rnch said
    paulflexes saidI would have given her a very polite and informative verbal lashing about the consequences of her decision (possible suicide for her son due to emotional trauma, etc), then asked her to leave my office.

    Money/job does not come before compassion...at least, not for me. icon_wink.gif



    i am assuming that the OP is an attorney?

    if so, then his duty to his clents is to serve their legal needs to the best of his abilities; NOT express his personal views to the client...unless requested.


    icon_exclaim.gif
    Which is more important...his "duty" or her son's life?


    I am assuming that the guy being 30 something knows his mother and this will not come as a surprise. So I don't think his life is in danger.

    She probably has another shock ahead of her when she finds out the other twin is gay and again I am assuming identical twins. In any case she may lose both for a while.

    This may or may not be permanent as all things change. But so much for a mothers love????

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    Apr 06, 2011 4:12 PM GMT
    I think you did your job perfectly by raising issue as you did.

    If they are twins, is the other one gay, too?
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    Apr 06, 2011 4:21 PM GMT
    Roccoe said
    paulflexes said
    rnch said
    paulflexes saidI would have given her a very polite and informative verbal lashing about the consequences of her decision (possible suicide for her son due to emotional trauma, etc), then asked her to leave my office.

    Money/job does not come before compassion...at least, not for me. icon_wink.gif



    i am assuming that the OP is an attorney?

    if so, then his duty to his clents is to serve their legal needs to the best of his abilities; NOT express his personal views to the client...unless requested.


    icon_exclaim.gif
    Which is more important...his "duty" or her son's life?


    I am assuming that the guy being 30 something knows his mother and this will not come as a surprise. So I don't think his life is in danger.

    She probably has another shock ahead of her when she finds out the other twin is gay and again I am assuming identical twins. In any case she may lose both for a while.

    This may or may not be permanent as all things change. But so much for a mothers love????



    Well Paul, your heart's in the right place. I had an initial stab of angry indignation and a feeling of 'Oh yeah?' when I read the topic post.
    HnsmKansan handled it excellently, I think, with

    "What I said was... "Dustin" (not his real name)
    is pretty awesome. Are you sure you want to take this action after hearing this news. You are pretty upset, would it be better to give it a few days before doing anything"? She wanted to proceed. I told her she could change her beneficiary anytime... and I'm sending her the form."

    -Doug

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    Apr 06, 2011 4:29 PM GMT
    Wow that is pretty sickening that there are people like that still out there. She may be upset right now but perhaps she needs time to absorb it and she will change her mind in time.
  • tongun18

    Posts: 593

    Apr 06, 2011 4:33 PM GMT
    Caslon18000 saidI think you did your job perfectly by raising issue as you did.


    I agree. It's a shame she's decided to follow that course of action but you did what you could by advising her to take some time to consider her decision. As you said, ultimately, it's her call to make and as her agent you have to fulfill your duties to the best of your ability. After you've concluded this bit of business, if it continues to bother you too much, then it would be appropriate to re-evaluate the business relationship you have with her and possibly advise her to seek your type of services elsewhere but not before, again I think you made the best decision.
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Apr 06, 2011 4:51 PM GMT
    paulflexes said
    rnch said
    paulflexes saidI would have given her a very polite and informative verbal lashing about the consequences of her decision (possible suicide for her son due to emotional trauma, etc), then asked her to leave my office.

    Money/job does not come before compassion...at least, not for me. icon_wink.gif



    i am assuming that the OP is an attorney?

    if so, then his duty to his clents is to serve their legal needs to the best of his abilities; NOT express his personal views to the client...unless requested.


    icon_exclaim.gif
    Which is more important...his "duty" or her son's life?


    Absolutely correct. I may not personally agree with my client's decision, but it is her's, not mine. We have a cordial relationship. She's done some odd things over the years, but in no means have I ever viewed her with any distain. She is also a very emotional person. It would be appropriate for me to interject the need to her to "consider carefully" her actions, but not to question what is right, wrong or indifferent.

    And Cas... the other twin isn't gay (or hasn't come out as of yet). As is typical, these guys are very different, so I have no view (one way or another) as to whether the other brother is gay.
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    Apr 06, 2011 5:02 PM GMT
    rnch said
    paulflexes said
    rnch said
    paulflexes saidI would have given her a very polite and informative verbal lashing about the consequences of her decision (possible suicide for her son due to emotional trauma, etc), then asked her to leave my office.

    Money/job does not come before compassion...at least, not for me. icon_wink.gif



    i am assuming that the OP is an attorney?

    if so, then his duty to his clents is to serve their legal needs to the best of his abilities; NOT express his personal views to the client...unless requested.


    icon_exclaim.gif
    Which is more important...his "duty" or her son's life?



    paul, TRY to get a hold on your emotions!

    being disinherited will not end the son's life....inherited wealth can be as much a curse as a blessing.

    also, she may be as financially deprived as she is ethically deprived.
    I know that being disinherited won't end the son's life, but combined with the myriad of other gay hate that we have to endure, it's a risk that I wouldn't want to take.

    In any business, it's common to "fire" clients for various reasons. The reasons vary from person to person. Personally, I would quickly let a client go to uphold my stance against bigotry and hatred toward any group of people...even at the potential cost of losing my business, because businesses are a dime a dozen.
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    Apr 06, 2011 5:17 PM GMT
    paulflexes saidIn any business, it's common to "fire" clients for various reasons.

    I concur, and my original thought on this. Though I do not know Kansas law, and the existing binding arrangements under which this particular woman was a clinet.

    "I'm sorry, but under these circumstances I am no longer able to continue as your legal counsel. I will return your prorated retainer, and make appropriate changes to all legal instruments in which I am named."

    (Or whatever is the correct legal verbiage in that State) One either has personal integrity, or one does not. Representing someone does not mean totally subordinating all your own moral principles & beliefs. I suspect US law schools need to bring their ethics courses into the 21st Century.
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    Apr 06, 2011 5:48 PM GMT
    The proverbial Rock & A Hard Place. I know that for me, as an insurance agent, my duty by law is to the insurance company, but I will fight for the client if I know the client is entitled. However, if I were a Broker, my duty, by law, is to the client, not the company. While I have dealt with similar statements made, I would have been fired as a call center employee for inserting my beliefs on a client/customer, but if I had my own agency, I could dismiss the client, but I would have to answer to the company as to why, which would be stupid of me to think the client wouldn't file a complaint against me with the state (my license) and the company (my contract).

    Yes, there are times when principle trumps business, but as my grandfather use to say, "Do you really want to bite the hand that feeds you?" I agree with Chris' actions here. There are people all of us know whose mind will never change. And we don't know the relationship between the twins. I would hope that if that relationship is like all relationships between twins that I know, even if the straight twin gets in all, he will share with his brother for no other reason that mom didn't know any better and it is the right thing to do.
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Apr 06, 2011 5:49 PM GMT
    I have no intention of "adding drama" and fanning the flames of emotion at this moment with her or her family. It is entirely possible she will come to peace with this situation. Let her have time to adjust.
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    Apr 06, 2011 7:20 PM GMT
    HndsmKansan saidI have no intention of "adding drama" and fanning the flames of emotion at this moment with her or her family. It is entirely possible she will come to peace with this situation. Let her have time to adjust.

    How much time? I suspect you are content with this remaining in place, and just posting about it, to relieve your guilt.

    And when she dies, and the gay twin is disinherited, you will dutifully execute her will, excluding him. You will do your legal duty. Against your beliefs, I presume, as you posted here, or else why post them at all?

    You have choices, and you chose profit over personal ethics. You want this woman's money, so you'll do whatever she says, no matter how gay-hateful she is. You could say no, right? She could find another attorney to replace you, correct?

    So why are you still the attorney to a homophobe? When you and she have options? I remain puzzled by your choice.
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    Apr 06, 2011 7:29 PM GMT
    Well, he can also decline services at any time later, Art. icon_wink.gif
    I'm curious to see if she goes ahead and returns the form removing her son from her will. Likely she'll tell other family members about what she's going to do. lol, I suspect there may be unholy hell with her family ahead of her, if others know the son is gay and are fine with it.

    -Doug
  • rnch

    Posts: 11524

    Apr 06, 2011 7:32 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    paulflexes saidIn any business, it's common to "fire" clients for various reasons.

    I concur, and my original thought on this. Though I do not know Kansas law, and the existing binding arrangements under which this particular woman was a clinet.

    "I'm sorry, but under these circumstances I am no longer able to continue as your legal counsel. I will return your prorated retainer, and make appropriate changes to all legal instruments in which I am named."

    (Or whatever is the correct legal verbiage in that State) One either has personal integrity, or one does not. Representing someone does not mean totally subordinating all your own moral principles & beliefs. I suspect US law schools need to bring their ethics courses into the 21st Century.



    this is indeed a valid option for the OP.

    income vs. ethics...a gray area for many people nowadays.


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