Do your financial advisor, accountant and lawyer talk? It may sound like the start of a bad joke, but ensuring that these three professionals are conversing with one another is no laughing matter. With tax season around the corner, and as you look at your financial documents, it’s a great time to revisit your overall financial, tax and estate plans. Your financial advisor is an expert in planning for your financial goals, but also has tax and long-term planning to take into consideration. Your accountant is a tax expert, but also has to consider your investments and inheritance plans to be tax efficient. And your lawyer is an expert in creating an estate plan, Will, etc., but this can’t be complete without knowing the particulars of your finances. It’s clear that each shouldn’t be considered in a vacuum.
The first step is asking if these three parties will come to the table to discuss your overall plans and goals to align with each other. None of these professionals are a one-stop-shop — nor should they be — and a lack of communication between the three could lead to missed opportunities for saving and making money.
It’s critical to consider the whole picture here — not just silos. Do you have an estate plan or Will in place? Does it align with your beneficiary designations on retirement accounts or a life insurance plan? Perhaps when you started your career and signed up for a 401(k) you were single and designated a sibling as your beneficiary. But now you’re married with children and you haven’t changed your beneficiary to your spouse; a critical move you should make.
Keeping documents updated and professionals informed are things that you can control and help you prepare for events that you may not be able to control. It’s important to note that a Will doesn’t necessarily override other designations from banks and financial institutions. So, not having your documents and plans in sync could potentially lead to a series of unnecessary hoops your loved ones would have to jump through, adding financial stress to their loss. If something happens to you, those assets may be crucial to your family’s financial security.
When it comes to your investments is your advisor keeping tax efficiencies in mind? If there was a run-up year in the markets and your portfolio realized gains, it may make sense to sell stocks that showed losses to offset those gains. Have you considered your charitable goals and how those efforts can benefit your tax situation? Having an open dialogue about this and the legacy you want to leave is critical to meet your goals now, and in the future.
Bringing your financial advisor, accountant and attorney together will allow them to each have a clearer understanding of your circumstances so they can better plan for you. Consider making it an annual practice to ensure your plans are aligned based on any personal changes such as a marriage, children, illness and changes to retirement plans.
Three heads are better than one and connecting all the professionals in your life can ultimately save you time and money. If one of these individuals is not willing to work with the other two, then it may be time to start looking for a new professional to work with. Each of these individuals has a responsibility to do what’s best for you, your family and your affairs, and someone with an unwillingness to cooperate may not have your best interest in mind.
If you have any questions about how to get the conversation started to reach your financial goals, the advisors at Girard are here to help. Contact us to have a conversation about creating a comprehensive and cohesive plan for your financial future.
This article is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting or financial advice. The information in this article, and any opinions expressed therein, do not constitute a recommendation or an offer to buy or sell any security or financial instrument. Viewers should consult with their financial and/or legal professionals before making any financial decisions.
Girard is a marketing name used by Univest Financial Corporation to provide (1) investment and wealth management, fiduciary services and trust services through its subsidiary Univest Bank and Trust Co., (2) specific fiduciary and investment advisory services through Girard Advisory Services, LLC (3) securities products, insurance products and brokerage services through Girard Investment Services, LLC, a registered broker-dealer and member of FINRA and SIPC, and a licensed insurance agency, and (4) investment management and related products and services for Pennsylvania municipal entities through Girard Pension Services, LLC. Investment products and services are not FDIC insured, not a bank deposit, not bank guaranteed, not insured by any federal government agency and are subject to risks, including possible loss of any principal amount invested.