Estate planning is more than documents. Rather, the purpose of estate planning is to take care of as many parts of your life as possible: legal, financial, insurance, and others. Many different professionals may involved in a good estate plan: attorney, financial advisor, life insurance agent, accountant, long-term care agent, and others. Each of these professionals specialize in different aspects of your life, and working together as a team is the best way to make sure that all your needs are being met.
Some examples of these different aspects of your life include retirement, providing for a surviving spouse, affording assisted living or mental health care, disability planning and costs, taxes, asset protection, building your wealth, business succession, or death.
Creating an Advisory Team
To meet your goals, many different professionals may be needed. It is not only important for you to make good decisions on the professionals that you work with, but to also have these professionals work together as a team. As a team, your professionals can better provide their skills and strategies to meet your needs in a comprehensive and internally consistent way. By having this team working together from the beginning, communication and coordination is better as opposed to more of a patchwork approach. The team approach can lower time and costs for you, as they can work together and minimize conflicts. They can also work together and hold each other accountable.
Again, an advisory team will probably include: a financial advisor, an estate planning attorney, an accountant or CPA, and an insurance agent or broker. In certain situations, a professional trustee may be required. For business owners, other team members may include a business attorney, bookkeeper, as well as possibly a valuation expert or business broker. Of course, your personal situation is unique, and the makeup of this team may vary.
To create the best plan for you, you will probably need to participate in several meetings with your team. In the first meeting, the focus should be on your goals, vision, and concerns. The professionals should be asking you questions and listening. The second meeting should be a meeting in which the professionals discuss their expertise and how they can help you fulfill your goals. This is still more of a developmental meeting so you can begin to develop a path to fulfill your goals and your professionals begin to make their puzzle pieces fit. The next meeting should be one where your plan is finalized and your team members can begin to implement your plan.
Of course, any plan will require modifications over time. The team will work together to edit your plan to make sure that it always reflects your goals and your situation.
Because you are investing a good amount of effort into making this team approach work, you may wish to involve your family. Involving your loved ones will help them begin to create a relationship with your professional team. This will help your plan to work for you uninterrupted after you are no longer there. These relationships build trust and avoid confusion during difficult times. Trust and continuity is so important in your plan, especially once you have passed away. That is a traumatic moment in life for everyone and inherently introduces disruption. A good plan is designed to continue after you have passed, and planning for your plan to continue seamlessly after you have passed will benefits your loved ones.
The team approach aligns well with one of The Rains Law Firm’s Guiding Principles: relationship-based. I not only seek to develop a long-term and close relationship with you, but also with your professionals. I understand that the more collaboration that occurs, the less speed bumps your plan will encounter.