Estate planning is the process of determining what will happen to your funds, assets, and general finances after your death. While it may not be the most pleasant thing to think about, estate planning helps ensure your wishes are carried out in the future.
A wise first step is to assemble a team of professionals who can help you through the estate planning process. Here are three must-have professionals for your estate planning team.
- Financial advisor
It’s likely your family may already have a relationship with a financial advisor. In the context of estate planning, your financial advisor’s role is to recommend and fund your investment, trust, and retirement accounts, as well as to assist in the proper titling of any non-retirement accounts you might own. Your financial advisor will also make sure the beneficiaries and secondary beneficiaries named on your retirement accounts are updated—a critical but often overlooked step. Often, your financial advisor can assist with life insurance, too.
A savvy financial advisor will understand not only how to manage your estate’s finances but also the importance of working closely with the following two professionals.
- Estate planning attorney
Your estate planning attorney can create and prepare a will and a trust according to your wishes. In addition, this professional can draw up your durable power of attorney for your health care, verify your property titles, and make sure that assets you own in other states are properly titled. If you own a business, your estate planning attorney can create a legal document that ensures a plan for the succession of your business.
Finally, working with an estate planning attorney to create a will or trust can help your family avoid the hassle of probate court, which is a court that deals with the property and debts of the deceased. But if probate were to become necessary, your estate planning attorney can prepare and file all of the necessary court documents, relieving your executor of this often-stressful task.
- Tax professional
Needless to say, the U.S. tax system is very complex, especially when it comes to estate taxes. Although the federal estate tax exemption in 2019 is $11.4 million, many states, including Minnesota, have much smaller exemptions, which could trigger the need for your family to file an estate return. A tax professional can assist with this as well as the interpretation of and compliance with tax laws.
A qualified tax professional is able to direct you in a tax efficient manner to accomplish your goals. They also understand that estate planning is about much more than taxes and can use their experience to direct you and your family.
Tax professionals are also one of the critical professionals who will guide the personal representative or executor of an estate with closing responsibilities such as obtaining a federal ID number, setting up an estate account, tax filings and paying the final distributions to beneficiaries.
It’s never too early to build your estate planning team.
If you haven’t started the estate planning process, consider reaching out to a financial advisor, an estate planning attorney, and a tax professional as soon as possible. Although their roles may overlap in some areas, it’s in your best interest to enlist all three in order to get the most accurate and up-to-date information and advice. Working together and with you, these professionals can help to clarify and facilitate your estate planning wishes, giving you and your family peace of mind for the future.
If you have questions about estate tax planning, feel free to give us a call. Our estate planning specialists are here to answer any questions you have. We also work closely with many financial advisors and estate planning attorneys and would be happy to provide a referral if needed.