ColumnistsFinancial Literacy

There is Safety in the Multitude of Counsel

The full Scripture alluded to in this column’s title says, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” In this age where we can Google everything, there is a deluge of information to be found. However, information is not counsel.

I have been raised by parents who lived their lives demonstrating the value of community. From civil rights activism to community gatherings, it was clear to me that together, we are better. The amazing brain trust that is available when you are in the right space with the right people could solve so many issues and answer so many questions.

I have grown up and lived long enough to see that all counsel isn’t good counsel. I see that is why the Bible speaks to the safety in the multitude! I know that we all have that friend who knows a little bit of everything. Sometimes that little bit is enough to get us into trouble. I encourage you to not just find the person who talks the most but the person who is truly a subject matter expert.

At The Griffin Firm, we have developed a collaborative model of service. We know that our lane of estate planning is deep but narrow. We are quite thrilled to have the opportunity to work with people who have lanes that are equally deep and equally narrow. We work with financial advisers, real estate professionals and accountants to build strategies that enhance and support the dreams and visions of legacy building. Collectively, we have capacity to create a multilane thoroughfare that provides support and direction.

I encourage you to be thoughtful about the counsel you receive. First, beware of the free offerings that you receive from friends and loved ones who “heard” the best way to do something like pass on assets upon death. I know far too many people who add their children’s names to the deeds for their houses to avoid the operation of probate.  While I am a great proponent of probate avoidance, I know that there are better ways to avoid the probate process.

I am also aware of people seeking legal advice from professionals who are not legal professionals. We have quite a few people who walk into our office with “do it yourself” will and trust kits from financial professionals. I am not going to begin to discuss the downfalls of the documents downloaded from the internet as a legal source.

I will not make the blanket statement to suggest that you have to get a lawyer or a subject-matter expert for everything, but I will ask how important is the goal. If you are deciding whether to wear brown shoes or black shoes, the answer will not have lasting impact. If you are deciding on a medical procedure that could potentially extend or limit your life or your capacity during your lifetime, you would want to get multiple opinions. In addition, you would want the person providing the opinion to be a certified medical professional in the practice area that is most relevant. Do not seek information regarding open-heart surgery from a dentist.

I know that many people are reluctant to spend money for lawyers, financial advisers or accountants. Yet, if it is important to build for your future or your family’s future, you should consider investing in the future of your family. Time is the one thing we cannot create and what is lost is lost.  

I share the Amplified version of Proverbs 11:14: “Where there is no [wise, intelligent] guidance, the people fall [and go off course like a ship without a helm], But in the abundance of [wise and godly] counselors there is victory.”

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