Planning Isn’t All About Lawyers

You’re First Consideration, whether you are a young adult of age 18 or a senior of age 65 plus, you need to set up a viable estate plan that protects and provides your loved ones with financial security. So who than should be considered the best possible combination of professionals needed in setting up such a valuable plan?

Make no mistake, there are books and a multitude of software packages available containing pre-written legal documents that are available for your purchase and subsequent use. However, bear in mind Federal laws change and State laws vary on estate planning issues. An outdated form or one containing the incorrect legal terminology can most certainly invalidate or at minimum, create an extended probate of what you thought was a drum-tight estate plan.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d be the first to admit that I have the highest regard for the hard core do-it-yourself individual. However, when it comes to estate planning and all the complex legal issues, I’d also be the first to highly recommend one seek the advice of the schooled professionals. Recommended, with a professionalism requirement in mind, here are some fields of expertise you should consider in achieving a complete estate planning team;

ACCOUNTANT – One of the most personal financial documents you complete annually is your state and federal tax returns. If you use a tax consultant, no one is usually more familiar with your financial situation than these accountants. If you run your own business, the accountant is the one who completes the check and balance sheets. So of course, use your accountant to assist in gathering the information necessary to put together a good estate plan that holds no oversights.

ATTORNEY – Like many professional fields, attorneys as well have specific fields and levels of competence. So, you do not need a criminal lawyer, patent attorney, bankruptcy or medical malpractice specialist configuring your estate plan. Usually a good estate planning attorney can be found under the Family Practice area of expertise. These attorneys are highly capable in drafting wills and preparing the many trusts available for your consideration should you decide such an instrument is needed. There are many other documents available as well and these practicing attorneys are schooled in the essential elements needed to satisfy specific legal requirements. To narrow down your search needs, see my article “Selecting an Estate Planning Attorney.”

FINANCIAL PLANNER – When it comes to estate planning, the financial planner’s specialty is giving advice to you about the multitude of programs and investments available to suit your means. Let there be no doubt, your money can always be more productive! Just remember, there are professionals and there are those that hang a shingle claiming to be an expert. For your own protection and ultimate well being, consider exploring a financial planner that belongs to a National Professional Group. For additional information you can contact the Financial Planning Association at, the Society of Financial Service Professionals at, and/or the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors at

LIFE INSURANCE UNDERWRITER – Across the age spectrum it is not unreasonable to state that most of us are underinsured. When it comes to estate planning, life insurance should be an integral part of this plan. Young families should consider Term Insurance which would provide necessary support for a family should one or both parents die. There may be a need for life insurance to make your estate more liquid for example – to pay the taxes without being required to sell assets to settle this debt. Your life insurance underwriter is the most suitable one to determine your needs and the subsequent amount and type of insurance that most favorably meets those needs.

TRUST OFFICER – To help manage your assets even better, you might consider a retirement trust. Perhaps you have already established a trust for your minor children. Talking to your bank or financial institute’s trust officer about their fees and services is most certainly, time well spent. Particularly about trust’s established for minors, as they could require a trust guardian to avoid squandering inherited assets because of their blind faith or immaturity.

In summary, You may or may not need every member of the estate planning team suggested, or at least all of them at any given time within your lifespan. As you grow and achieve the more complex your estate becomes. Thus, the more likely the chances you will have to call upon the range and far reaching capabilities of the professional services suggested.

In conclusion , just as in the current day real estate market, within the estate planning market, it is a buyer’s market as well. So remember, you are doing the hiring! You are not the one being employed and as such, despite the wealth of legal knowledge your team has, you remain in charge of the decision making process. You are the boss and the estate plan you decide upon is a final decision you make based upon your teams professional and legal advice.

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