Just as those who participate in fantasy sports leagues, you, too, should spend the time to research your choice of professionals to surround you when tackling your estate plan, and not merely pick someone by default because you are too busy to take the time to make the right choice. The advantage in your fantasy league of professionals is that more than one person can choose the same professional. So how do you choose your team and who is part of that team? For any solid team, you need to cover all your positions well. When it comes to proper estate planning, that team should be composed of your financial advisor, your attorney and your accountant.
Similar to your choices to build a winning sports team, each professional should be chosen after reviewing their experience, past performance, longevity and suitability. The experience of your professionals can be determined by a combination of age, a review of his or her resume and relying on trusted referral sources and advisors.
Past performance can be checked through these same referral sources, but also in asking the professional pointed questions about their experience and by assessing his or her ability to address your unique needs. Setting up an initial meeting or phone call to discuss your needs is important.
Longevity can be determined by considering the professional’s age and, in some cases, considering the firm and its staff who may step in when your chosen professional chooses to retire. Longevity is important in estate planning as this professional will likely be sitting down with your family to walk them through the legal process after you pass away. Having a professional who treats your family with respect, who is capable of handling the job and one who performs the role honestly and fairly is key.
Suitability is a factor many people overlook. However, picking someone who works well with you and your family can save a lot of heartache and expense. Picking an advisor who may not relate well to your children, your other professionals and your particular plan is not only counter-productive, but it can lead to more fees and frustration for your family.
All this is why it is very important when you build your team that you have them either meet or communicate with each other. When I handle estate plans, I insist on not only knowing who the professionals are and if the particular plan needs particular beneficiary designations or has unique tax issues, but I will reach out to the other professionals to ensure proper planning is discussed. Even better, you should have your chosen professional team meet your family members or trusted friends who will be in charge of your affairs. When I have the opportunity to meet a client’s Power of Attorney/Executor, the process of this person having to step in and meet me is already over and this saves not only time and fees, but allows this person to step in much more readily as they know who to contact, and I already have the connection as well.
Click here to see this article in Lancaster County Woman.