A recent email conversation with a Final Embrace blog reader has revealed the age old wisdom that some of us have forgotten:  every business needs an attorney.

This funeral director, who I won’t name until he shares the outcome of the legal matter, asked me for an opinion on whether he should hand over funeral arrangement paperwork (contract, embalming authorization, etc.) to the attorney representing his client family in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Concerned that he might damage his relationship with the client family or be included in the lawsuit himself, he wanted to figure out what to do as quickly as possible, so as to lessen any impact it might have on his community standing.

Unfortunately, the issue was clouded by the law firm which requested, in addition to these documents, that the funeral home lower their bill (for services already provided) by almost 20%. 

The director was, at least in my mind, rightfully unsettled by this request, as he did not cause the death and had a signed contract for the services he provided at the price he quoted.  (I think that the attorney is trying to either free up money to fund his own work or wants to look like he accomplished something for the family to justify his fee.  If he/she operates a “no fee unless you recover money” type practice, this reduction of the funeral service bill might qualify as a “recovery.”)

But because I am not a legal scholar, I suggested that he get an attorney immediately. 

Let’s face it, if a client family turns over their affairs to a lawyer or one of those “consumer reporters,” it’s time for you to add a similar layer of support to your firm. 

Just remember, the best time to choose an attorney is NOT when you need one.  Take some time to audition lawyers now, before you need one.  And make sure you find one who can be there when you need him/her.  Because lawsuits, “Action News Reports” and angry families don’t happen when your schedule is most conveniently organized.