Rural Residents Deserve Worldclass Legal Services – or – “Outstate” – Out of where?

June 07, 2011

I had the opportunity to attend the annual Probate and Trust Institute in St. Paul, Minnesota, yesterday.  It was well done, and I’m always grateful for the chance to speak with other wills,  estate planning and probate attorneys.  I attended sessions on the state of federal and Minnesota estate tax, generation skipping tax, planning for social security, IRS Form 706 for estate tax returns, and dealing with creditor claims in insolvent estates.

One thing that always strikes me though is that many attorneys from the Twin Cities metro area have a hard time relating to the legal issues rural Minnesotans face.  At one point in a seminar, someone pointed out an issue that relates to farms and then noted that “we” won’t have to deal with that.  And I can’t count how many times I heard the word “outstate” yesterday.  That word always makes me pause, wondering whether the metro area really is “in-state” and all of the rest of us are just out here somewhere unimportant.   In my experience as a practitioner and a rural citizen, rural residents don’t think they live out of somewhere else.  We live here.  And here is a pretty great place.

So my advice today?  Consider whether your lawyer understands the issues you face as a farmer, a rural business owner, a small town resident.  My law office on the border of rural Mower, Fillmore, and Olmsted counties practices big city law with small town values.  Just recently I was told, “I can’t believe there’s a Harvard lawyer in Grand Meadow.”  Well, why shouldn’t there be?  I think we rural citizens deserve world-class service, and I’m happy to be a part of that goal.  I hope to see you in my office soon!

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