Many estate plans require the help of several professionals working together to ensure that your overarching plan for the distribution of your property at your death works the way that you intend. Often plans don’t work out the way you want because your property can be titled in so many different ways. It’s important to consult an experienced attorney, financial advisor, and sometimes a CPA or experienced accountant to ensure that you get the best advice possible. Oftentimes, we choose our professionals based on word of mouth alone. If a friend or trusted advisor recommends a certain professional, first ask why he or she gave the recommendation. Determine whether the professional provided prompt service over time, gave good advice in a particular situation, and communicated well.
You must decide whether the professional is the right person to handle your particular needs; this means that there is good chemistry with the professional, so that you will enjoy working with him/her for a long time. Also, make sure the professional’s expertise is a perfect fit for your situation. For example, picking a lawyer just because you know someone will not benefit you if he or she focuses on a different area of the law than what you require. Instead, choose a lawyer that’s right for you based on your particular circumstances. Recently, I had a family see me only one month after securing a revocable trust plan and paying a hefty fee for it. The trust was an excellent trust for a normal situation, but unfortunately, the trust was created for a person who anticipated needing long term care soon. The family wanted to know how to get financial assistance and protect the home and other property. In essence, we had to throw out the old planning because the first attorney had no experience with elderlaw and its related asset protection planning; hence we had to redo the planning to accomplish all the objectives of the family. If you require assistance with estate planning, and you are retired, find an attorney who can also advise you about asset protection and elder law. Attorneys who enjoy broad experience and expertise can look at your situation from all angles and provide you with unique insight. Some advisors are simply better than others for particular situations.
Like attorneys, financial advisors are diverse and specialize in different areas. In order to find the right advisor for your situation, determine first how much of your nest-egg you are willing to invest and whether you’re more comfortable with a conservative, moderate or aggressive approach. Then, look for an advisor who frequently helps clients with that level of investment and whether he or she has an investment strategy that works for you. In addition, ask what the advisor will do to protect you from any downside risk or losses. Do they offer regular advice on when to sell? How often do they personally reach out to communicate with you about your investments or your overall strategy? Find an advisor who communicates often and has an effective strategy that will protect your investments over time.
Finally, remember that paying for good advice now will save you time and money. While most people think that they have a simple situation, all families need a plan that’s specifically tailored to their unique circumstances. One size never fits all when getting good advice or implementing proper planning.
If you or your loved ones require assistance, consider W.G. Alexander & Associates – we are experienced attorneys who offer a unique blend of asset protection, Elder Law and estate planning. You can also attend our free seminars, learn more through our website at www.wgalaw.com, or call us at (919) 256-7000.
Attorney Bill Alexander discusses these issues and more every Tuesday morning on W.G. Alexander & Associates’ radio program, “Asset Protection Today,” on TalkRadio 850 WPTK (AM). Be sure to listen from 9:00-10:00 AM.