21 Jul 2015

Build Your Estate Planning Team

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Estate Planning is a process – not a transaction! There are many moving parts in your plan that need to be coordinated to get the most benefit you can. That’s why you should put together and work with a team of estate planning advisors to help you get it right. Many people already have these advisors in place, but often they are not used in a team environment. That is a lost opportunity for you.

Your Attorney
First, of course, you should select an estate planning attorney. The attorney should have a solid reputation and years of estate planning experience. The attorney should also have an appreciation for being part of your “team” and not operate in a vacuum. Then you need to involve other advisors like your financial planner, accountant, banker, insurance agent or broker, and perhaps your religious advisors. These team members should mesh well together to make sure your estate plan is coordinated on all levels. If one advisor is not focused on collaborating with the others, then it might be time to find someone who is a team player. More and more, professionals in these fields are open to the synergy created by an estate planning team, so you shouldn’t have to settle for someone who won’t play well with others.

Why Involve Your Accountant
Accountants are not just for taxes. An accountant has information essential to the selection of the appropriate estate planning techniques for you, such as the your present and prospective net worth, asset mix, present and future cash flow needs and family concerns (both financial and nonfinancial) i. In addition, accountants regularly have access to your personal information to determine whether you are complying with estate plans once it is put into place and whether you are or are not taking action inconsistent with the estate plan.

Why Involve Your Banker, Insurance Agent and Financial Advisor
It is vital that you have not only a strong estate plan, but have your finances and assets secured as well. Bankers, Financial planners and Insurance agents should work hand in hand with estate planning attorneys to make sure your goals are consistent and can be carried out in the way you expect them to. All three of these professionals will provide important information to your estate planning attorney. That information might include things like the nature of your investments, insurance coverage and information about the beneficiaries or your policies, the value of retirement accounts and annuities, and much more. They mainly ensure that your accounts are properly funded into your Trust, and ensure that you comply with all current laws.

Why Involve Your Family
Communicate, communicate, communicate! We’ve all heard horror stories about families who end up embroiled in feuds over money after a loved one passes on. More often than not, this is because the terms of the Will or Estate come as a shock to them. If you take the time to discuss your estate plan, financial status and motivations with your loved ones, your estate plan will be less prone to challenges later on and provide peace of mind for family members who will understand what you’ve done and why. It could also be important to have the benefit of older family member’s experiences both good and bad with estate planning. Often they can give advice on good choices for fiduciaries, guardians and other important decisions.

Why Involve a Religious Advisor
Estate planning is a personal process that should reflect your values, family circumstances, and even religious beliefs. Some religions have specific rules about what should happen to your property after your die. Other religions have viewpoints on end of life decisions. A religious advisor may also be available to guide you in dealing with difficult family issues. Involving your religious advisor in the estate planning team will help ensure your commitments to your faith are carried out.

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