The coordination of your estate plan is a concentrated undertaking that requires a network of professionals. All the necessary components must be in synch so that your plan will work for you at different stages of your life and beyond.
An estate planning attorney plays an important part in the creation of your estate plan. Their main role is the preparation of the estate planning documents: a last will and testament, trusts, powers of attorney, and health care directives. They will also advise you on estate tax implications, titling assets and designating beneficiaries on life insurance and retirement plans. Preserving assets for long term care is another important aspect to consider. Often times the attorney will consult with other professional advisors to develop a comprehensive estate plan for you.
An accountant or a CPA is one of the professionals whose input may be needed in developing your estate plan. The accountant will have your income tax records, will know the basis of your assets, as well as your tax rates, and potentially the tax rates of your beneficiaries. Additionally, they will have knowledge of the income tax laws in other states to determine if you will save taxes by relocating to another state. All of this information is important in planning to reduce or eliminate taxes.
A financial advisor is another professional that is part of the estate planning team. The financial advisor will have a good handle on your investments and your cash flow. Most clients meet with their financial advisor one or two times a year to discuss their financial goals. It is likely that people will meet with their financial advisor more frequently than they meet with their estate planning attorney, and the financial advisor will have a better handle on the financial affairs of the client. Often, a financial advisor will refer one of their clients to our law firm for the preparation of estate planning documents. One of the responsibilities that a good financial advisor will take seriously is to make sure their clients have implemented a will, trust, power of attorney, and health care directives. Once your estate planning is in place, you will work with your financial advisor to make sure the beneficiaries of your retirement plans are in good order. The attorney will make recommendations as to how the beneficiaries should be set up, and then it is the financial advisor’s role to implement those recommendations by properly designating the beneficiaries on the accounts.
Because insurance also plays a key role in estate planning, it is important to have an insurance agent that you trust who will implement insurance as needed for the estate plan. Life insurance will be needed throughout your life, but at different stages the needs for insurance will be different. Therefore, you want to meet with your insurance agent to keep your life insurance up to date. The insurance agent is also able to advise you on your need and amount for long term care insurance, which pays for expenses if you need care at home, in assisted living or in a nursing home.
Just having a will or trust in place is not enough to ensure a complete and comprehensive estate plan. To guarantee your estate will be intact for your loved ones, you need a team of professionals to assist you now and throughout your entire life.
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