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Who Are Estate Planners and What Do They Do?

Estate Planners | Monday, October 11th, 2010

The term “estate planner” is actually a rather broad term. In many cases, estate planners are attorneys. However, in other cases, there are financial advisors, insurance planners, and even CPAs who refer to themselves as estate planners. The type of estate planner needed is primarily determined by what you are trying to accomplish, as well as your specific situation and needs. If you are thinking about estate planning and don’t know where to start, here are some tips you can use to get the advice and assistance you need.

Estate Planning Attorneys

If you need legal documents drawn up, chances are you will require an estate planner who is also an attorney. There are attorneys who specialize in estate planning. These attorneys are very well versed in subjects such as wills, trusts, probate law and estates. The requirements for becoming an estate planning attorney vary according to the state in which they practice, but in many cases they are regulated by state bar organizations. Although there are certainly fees charged for estate planning, these fees are often minimal when compared to the loss of resources your family could experience if something would happen to you without having a good estate plan in place.

Financial Advisor Estate Planners

Financial advisors are also frequently consulted as estate planners. Although they will not be able to draw up the kinds of legal documents that require an attorney, they can certainly help you plan the finances concerning your estate. If you need help planning for the future in regards to what would happen if you should die or become disabled, a financial advisor who specializes in estate planning can help you determine what will happen to your investments, home, life insurance, benefits and other financial assets.

Why Do You Need an Estate Planner?

There are a number of documents that are commonly drawn up as part of the estate planning process. Most people are not familiar with these documents, so working with an estate planner can help you avoid costly mistakes. In most cases, there are advantages to working with both an estate planning attorney as well as a financial advisor who specializes in estate planning, since they focus on different aspects of the planning process. Documents which are commonly drawn up as part of the estate planning process include a will, a living will, a health care durable power of attorney, and a property durable power of attorney. Many people also choose to set up a living trust or a family limited partnership in order to insure that their property and financial resources are managed properly if something should happen to them. In some cases, there are also tax benefits to setting up arrangements such as a family limited partnership or a living trust. Proper estate planning can also prevent probate difficulties after your death. Although everyone should have an estate plan in place, it is especially important if you have minor children, property which you wish to distribute in a specific fashion if something were to happen to you, or if you want to have control over the health care treatment you receive if you become incapable of making the appropriate decisions.

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