Estate Planning: Don’t Go It Alone
This year will go down in the history books as one of the most challenging in American history. We are coping with a global pandemic. We are in quarantine. We are teaching our children in our kitchens. We are missing milestones. We are working from home while dealing with isolation from our peers, homeschooling, taking care of our families, and doing our best to remain hopeful for a future that now seems wildly uncertain.
AND we still need to manage our day-to-day affairs, like shopping, paying the bills, and making sure that our affairs are in order. That last one might be more important now than ever, with COVID-19 still ravaging the world and no real way to know if or when the virus might be coming for you.
So, this is a great time to take control of financial matters by assembling a team of qualified financial professionals to make sure that your affairs are in order.
When advising his clients on matters of estate planning, Bill Lawrence, Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) and President of P/L/R Insurance, says that “Adequate insurance coverage for your stage of life is important. However, to ensure proper estate planning, you also need a CPA to serve as your tax expert, an attorney who specializes in this area, and a qualified financial planner.”
As always, “Buyer beware is good advice,” Lawrence continues. “Many financial planners are nothing more than life insurance salespeople masquerading as financial planners. If the person you meet with does nothing but try to push expensive whole life policies on you, walk away and find someone else. You need a comprehensive plan that may include some form of life insurance, but it may not be whole life.”
Estate planning is simply the process of determining what will happen to your funds, assets, and general finances after your death. You should plan to meet with each professional on your estate planning team one-on-one to ask questions and be sure you understand their role in the process. Each of your advisors must know what the others are doing so that they don’t give conflicting advice or end up working at cross-purposes with each other.
Your Estate Planning Attorney
Since the bulk of your estate plan consists of legal documents like a will, a trust, powers of attorney, and living wills, you should seek advice from an attorney specializing in these matters.
Your CPA/Tax Professional
The US tax system is a tricky beast, and a qualified tax professional will maximize tax efficiencies to help you accomplish your goals. Most estate plans will require reviewing the tax issues relating to income, gifts, and even estate and capital gains taxes for specific clients.
Tax professionals often also serve as a guide to the Executor of your estate, and they can help make sure that the final distributions get to the designated beneficiaries.
Your Insurance Professional
An estate plan is a dynamic document, and you should expect it to change over time. Your insurance professional can help to fine-tune your strategy each year at your annual insurance review.
Your Financial Planning Professional
Many people already have an established relationship with a financial advisor. This advisor’s role is to recommend and fund your investment, trust, and retirement accounts on matters of estate planning.
A good financial planner can help with the proper titling of any other accounts that you own. They will also help make sure the beneficiaries and secondary beneficiaries named on your retirement accounts are updated and help execute your estate according to your wishes.
Finally, according to Lawrence, “Make sure that your documents are stored somewhere where the Executor of your estate can easily find them. Estate planning is not a one-and-done set of documents. Expect the details to change as your life circumstances change.”
“Many times, clients have an existing relationship with one of these four essential estate planning professionals. If you’ve already built a trusting relationship with your financial planner or your insurance agent, ask them for referrals for the other people that should be on your team,” Lawrence says.
P/L/R is always here to help. If you have questions about insurance coverage as it relates to estate planning or need help finding the other members of your estate planning team, call or message us today and we’ll point you in the right direction. Reach us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org when you’re ready to experience insurance the way it’s supposed to be.