Estate Planning is not a space reserved only for attorneys – in fact, your financial advisor can be one of the most important people to help make sure your estate plan succeeds.
1. Your Planner Knows You Best
Financial advisors devote a considerable amount of time to understanding their clients’ lives and goals. They know better than anyone else what your ultimate goals are financially. Because your planner is familiar with your family dynamics and understands the roles that Guardians, Trustees and Executors play in the estate administration process, she is able to help you analyze who should be chosen for these roles if you are having trouble making the decision alone. Your financial advisor can also help you find a trustworthy estate planning attorney to draft an estate plan for you that achieves these goals.
2. Execution of the Plan (Titling and Beneficiary Designations)
One of the most important parts of executing an estate plan is correctly titling accounts and making sure that the beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and life insurance follow the estate plan so that the assets are distributed correctly. According to recent studies, less than forty percent of retirement accounts have a secondary beneficiary. While your estate planning attorney drafts the legal documents, it is typically your responsibility to confirm that your accounts are titled correctly and that the beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts and life insurance have been updated to reflect the plan. Your financial planner knows where all of your accounts are located and has extensive experience re-titling accounts and designating beneficiaries. Many planners are happy to help you complete any necessary changes.
3. Hold You Accountable
While you may only visit an estate planning attorney once or twice to complete your estate plan, you have an ongoing relationship with your financial planner. She knows about significant events or changes in your life and can be diligent in pointing out how these developments affect your estate plan. The financial advisor can also remind you to review your estate planning documents periodically as these changes occur.
4. Help You in a Time of Crisis
Surviving spouses often lean heavily on the help of a financial planner throughout the estate administration process. A planner can be a buffer between a surviving spouse and the financial steps (and stress) that happen upon the death of a loved one. It’s a great relief to a surviving spouse to have a planner completing the necessary paperwork for life insurance claims and retirement account rollovers. The financial planner’s familiarity with your estate plan and understanding of the estate administration process allows him to be particularly helpful during this process.
It is always nice to have the financial planner involved in the estate planning process from the start because they tend to be instrumental in helping the estate administration process go smoothly in the event of a tragedy.