Almost everyone has someone in their life who they look to for advice and guidance. Most people look at their parents this way (I certainly do!), but people also have other influential advisors — whether it be a school teacher, church leader, business mentor or some other sort of influential advisor. These people help show us the way through life, and sometimes they are not confined to one category. I have a church leader who taught me lessons that transformed how I conduct my business, and that have led me to be more successful in service to my customers. I find I am able to pass along the things I learned from influential people in my life through my experience working with others, both personally and professionally.
Types of Advisors
Some advisors come into our lives as professional advisors. As an example, you may have a family general practice attorney who helps with traffic tickets, assists with legal questions that arise, or even who prepared a power of attorney, or a basic will, or something along those lines. You may also have a financial advisor who helped them grow their assets over the years, whether that be someone who specializes in stocks, bonds, or other investments, or simply someone who helps you know what type of investments are available to you.
You probably also have an insurance agent that helps you with insurance products to protect your assets. An insurance agent may specialize in property or casualty insurance, to get you auto or homeowner’s insurance coverage, or a insurance agent may specialize in life insurance to protect against premature death.
These professional advisors are useful and helpful people to have, and professional advisors can be more than just professional advisors – they can have a profound effect on us personally. Each professional advisor gives advice from the advisor’s perspective, which may not include all perspectives, or encompass all advice. No matter what effect each professional advisor has on us, making sure all of the advice works together is an important goal.
I have heard of dueling proverbs, that seemingly contradict one another, such as “The early bird gets the worm,” but “the second mouse gets the cheese.” Or, “Clothes make the man,” but “don’t judge a book by its cover.” The sage sayings are supposed to impart wisdom, but when placed right next to each other, they seem to contradict one another.
The same can be said of professional advice.
Sometimes, what a financial adviser says, and what an attorney says, can seem to contradict one another. This may, or may not be the case, but it is often wise to have the professionals coordinate their efforts as we age.
When we are younger it is not as important our advisors work together because they each have a different function, and one does not depend on advice from the other. After we retire and we start to think about protecting our savings (and making them last the rest of our life) communication between professional advisors is very important.
Your financial advisor and estate planning need to be on the same page about how to protect assets, and what tools should be used to best benefit you.
Yes, It’s True: You Still Need to be Involved!
This doesn’t necessarily mean you should not be involved in discussing what you want with both your financial advisor and your estate planning attorney – quite the opposite is true.
You should be involved in discussing your wants and needs with your estate planning attorney and with your financial advisor. I sometimes run into people who want me to coordinate everything with their financial adviser, including the investments decisions they should make! I try to let people make their own decisions, and I can show them the benefits and drawbacks of moving in a particular direction. That said, I do like to let you make your own decisions, as that tends to turn out best.
The Important Thing
The important thing is that as an estate plan is put together different financial advisors coordinate their efforts to help you succeed in your goals of protecting your assets.
As an estate planning attorney, I want my efforts to enhance, not detract, from the efforts of your financial advisor and insurance agent. I want for our efforts to work together to achieve your goals, and the best way to do that is to communicate together, as necessary. Sometimes, we professionals do not need to directly communicate, as we are able to see what the other is doing and make our work fit in, but other times, we need to coordinate by direct communication to do what is best for you.
Bridging the Communication Gap
Of course, different professionals have responsibilities to keep information confidential. I am bound by client confidentiality and attorney-client privilege to keep my client’s information private and not share confidential information with others. However, if I have a client who needs me to coordinate with their other professional advisors, then I can certainly get permission to speak with the other professional advisors, and I can get permission to discuss what we plan to do in an estate planning context with the other professionals you have in your life, it just needs to be handled properly to protect you.
Getting to What You Want
I am happy to make sure whatever estate planning vehicle chosen works with your financial plan and your financial advisor’s plan. You want to make sure both parts are working together, and are not fighting each other. I have also run into situations where a financial advisor will tell a potential client of mine that they need some sort of specific estate planning document, and after discussing the client’s situation, that recommendation does not seem to make sense to me.
Getting you the best plan for you, and making that plan work among all of your professional advisors is my goal. By having your professional advisors work towards your common goal, and having the professionals communicate with each other, we can accomplish what you want!