The Advisory Team
Approach to Estate Planning
Estate planning is not simply
the documents prepared by an attorney, nor is it the insurance and financial
plan recommended by a financial advisor. Properly done, estate planning
encompasses at least the legal and financial elements, but it may include more,
as estate planning often points out the need to plan in other areas.
These other areas often include
planning for asset protection for the client’s lifetime and for the heirs;
retirement; providing for a surviving spouse in the event of disability and/or
death; providing for a parent or a child with special needs; long-term health
care costs; estate taxes; and/or a business succession plan at retirement,
disability and/or death.
To meet a client’s needs and
goals, it may be necessary to grow a business, increase or adjust insurance,
and manage investments in a certain way. No one professional has all the
answers; a team of qualified advisors, however, can provide the diverse skills
and experience that are necessary for the best result. Instead of consulting
with various professionals at different times and stages in the planning (often
getting different opinions from each one), many people find they benefit from
having a team of advisors involved in the process from the beginning. The team
approach also minimizes time and costs and, with everyone involved from
planning through implementation, the advisors can work together and hold each
An advisory team will likely include the estate planning
attorney; accountant/CPA; insurance agent/broker; investment advisor; and
possibly a professional trustee. For business owners, a business attorney and
valuation expert will probably be needed, as well as a business broker if the
plan calls for the business to be sold at some point. Other advisors may also be
included, depending on specific circumstances and needs.
Several meetings are usually needed. The advisory team will
first meet with the client to help identify goals and set priorities. At this stage,
the advisors should be asking more questions than providing answers. Usually
the advisors will then meet without the client to discuss how best to meet
these goals, bringing their areas of expertise into the planning as they
consider various legal and financial solutions. Then the team will present its
recommended plan to the client and, once approved, will begin to implement the
plan. From time to time, the team will meet to monitor the progress and make
any needed revisions as needs and goals change.
Involving family members will acquaint them with the members
of the advisory team, help them to understand what is being done and why, and
avoid confusion and distrust later. An advisory team can also provide
continuity if planning provides for minor children and/or grandchildren, those
with special needs and even for generations to come.
If the advisory team approach interests you, please contact a Bay Area Estate Planning Attorney today.