The Ethics of Appraising

03/14/2018     News and Film, Appraisal Services, Trusts and Estates

Estate planning works best when the estate-planning “team” is coordinated to work towards the client 's goals. The team members include the representatives from various professional designations, and each of those professional governing bodies may have different rules to follow in the ethical arena. “Ethics Matrix 2017” represents the efforts of the Ethics Committee of the Philadelphia Estate Planning Council (PEPC), and it highlights the rules from each independent professional organization designated for various issues that come up in the context of an estate-planning team. These ethical standards are model rules promulgated by national governing groups, not the state-specific standards that could be applicable to an individual in ta particular matter. Moreover, some individuals wear more than one hat and may be obligated to follow the highest standard for the multiple obligations.The full matrix can be viewed here.The MatrixThe Matrix, originally compiled for PEPC members, was first published in Trust & Estates in 1998 and subsequently updated in 2004. In 2007, the Matrix was updated again, and the results were published in the May 2007 issue of Trust & Estates. The 2007 Matrix identified five areas of regulation: Confidentiality, Conflicts of Interest, Compensation, Competency and Compliance, dubbed the “Five Cs.” We 've expanded the new updated Matrix to reflect realities of 2017 estate planning. This year, we 've introduced two new categories: Communication and Collaboration. In the 2017 estate-planning world, practitioners are much more likely to be addressing issues concerning communication not only between planner and client but also between the various professionals on the team. Moreover, collaboration rules have been developing over the last 10 years, so they now deserve special attention in the Matrix. As noted below, not all professional designations have addressed all of the various issues.The purpose of the Matrix is to give planners a reference guide on various reference points for each different topic. It 's the starting point, not the end, of thorny issues that confront us each day. As a result, planners shouldn 't rely solely on the Matrix. It 's important to seek out the codes and rules in their entirety for further guidance.Sample Client Consent FormHaving worked with the Matrix, we realize the concept of client consent to disclose to other members of the team isn 't really addressed within the rules of the various professional designations, and we offer a sample letter as a first step in considering that issue. The “Client Consent Form” (pictured) represents a proposed client consent form letter for communicating with the other members of the estate-planning team. While obtaining a client 's prior consent can serve a useful and beneficial goal in “best practices,” it isn 't intended to imply that such prior written consent is ethically required. In sum, the Matrix represents a rule of thumb for a planning team to consider because it can help to set expectations before problems arise. Nevertheless, the team could consider an aggregate interdisciplinary standard for each ethical component that we 've designated as the “Seven Cs.” As was noted in 2007, estate planners can use the Matrix to “mind your Ps and Qs” and keep up-to-date on the latest rules for ethical behavior.      This article originally appeared in Trusts & Estates Magazine August 2017 issue, and was written by the Ethics Committee. The members of the Ethics Committee are: Richard W. Bell, Jr., president, Planning Capital Management; M. Eileen Dougherty, senior vice president, Hawthorn; Samuel T. Freeman III, senior vice president, Freeman 's; Glenn A. Henkel, shareholder, Kulzer & DiPadova; Linda Callahan Henry, principal, Woodleave Wealth Process LLC; Matthew A. Levitsky, attorney, Fox Rothschild LLP; Skip Massengill, GFS, BEDROCK Principle Advisors; Melinda G. Rath, managing director of wealth advisory, Glenmede; and Mark Sobel, shareholder, Drucker & Scaccetti.