Who is the “right” expert to go to for professional advice on estate planning and taxes: an estate lawyer, a Certified Public Accountant or a Certified Financial Planner?
The answer is that to put in place a solid estate plan and maximize estate tax savings is to have all three professionals on your team working together.
An experienced estate attorney will address your general estate tax questions and address other legal implications of an estate plan involving a business and special family situations, such issues involving a special needs individual, marital issues and family members that have substance abuse issues. There are many different estate planning options which can involve a will or more complex documents such as revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, special needs trusts, a power of attorney, and other vehicles that may fit your situation and offer the opportunity not only to save taxes but protect you and your family from creditors. An attorney is often the best expert for helping you choose and implement the plan that will benefit and protect you and future generations.
A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) will advise clients regarding taxes and will usually have a working knowledge of changes to the tax code that are taking place and are coming down the road. Your CPA can review and advise a client not only about their personal tax situation, but also business taxes and investments. However, keep in mind that most estate planning involving taxes will require legal documents to be drafted and this should only be done by an experienced estate planning attorney working hand in hand with the CPA..
A Certified Financial Planner (CFP) should also be part of your team. They will help you design strategies using investments, 401(k)’s, IRA’s, life insurance and other options to grow your estate in a tax efficient manner before it is passed on to your heirs. A CFP can also make sure that all your beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and annuities are correct and they can keep an eye on the big picture of your overall estate plan so that through proper planning the value of your assets can grow.
Finally, as Anthony J. Vignier, Esq., explains, consider that all three professionals, an attorney, a CPA and a CFP, are all fiduciaries that must act in your best interest. Today, having all three professionals on your team working together is a must if you want to protect your wealth and pass on your legacy to future generations to come.