8 Key Questions to Ask Your Estate Planner Before Working with Them

elderly couple talking to an estate planner
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If you’ve ever sat down with an estate planner, you know how uncomfortable it can get. Conversations about death are not easy to talk about, yet it’s a discussion you don’t want to delay. After all, knowing your legacy is in good hands and your loved ones provided for when the time comes can help put your mind at ease.

Are you actively looking for estate planning services? This article presents some essential questions to ask an estate planner to find out if they can address your needs and leave no stone unturned.

8 Key Questions to Ask Your Estate Planner

The secret to an effective estate plan is working with a professional who can help you comprehend its complexities. Here are some estate planning questions to determine whether a planner suits your needs.

1. How long have you been an estate planner, and what are your qualifications?

Experience is the best teacher, so your prospective planner should’ve been practicing for a while. Ideally, they’ve been in the estate planning industry long enough to have prepared a client’s assets and overseen their successful execution. This consideration makes them more likely to be familiar with processing documents through courts, dealing with relevant taxes, and sustaining the deceased’s will.

Also, qualified estate planners usually have a law, accounting, or financial degree to prove their theoretical knowledge. They must hold certifications as a Chartered Trust and Estate Planner (CTEP) or an Accredited Estate Planner (AEP) to signify their competency in their role.

2. What is your approach toward estate planning?

Understanding the planner’s approach to estate planning provides you insights into their philosophy, methods, and overall strategy. It helps you assess whether they share your goals and align with your priorities, which are critical for the successful execution of your will.

For instance, do they provide basic or comprehensive services? Instead of only focusing on one aspect of your estate, you generally want the planner to consider your assets, debts, taxes, and other considerations. They should also offer a level of personalization that takes your circumstances, family dynamics, and personal goals into the equation.

3. What services do you offer?

An idea of the estate planner’s services helps determine if they can effectively handle your goals and requirements. Do they tailor plans to their client’s needs or use templates to simplify the process? What about scope—do they only draw up a plan or also oversee its execution?

Furthermore, inquiring about their services sheds light on any additional value they can contribute. Some planners offer specialized services, such as succession planning, financial advising, or elder law considerations, which can help you create a more comprehensive estate plan.

4. What’s your fee structure and billing process?

Inquire about the planner’s payment structure to avoid unforeseen expenses. Many offer services for a flat fee, which is easier to manage since you already know the upfront cost. It also ensures you can create a comprehensive plan that meets all your objectives since you won’t have to skimp on additional services.

Meanwhile, other planners charge an hourly rate based on the plan’s complexity and the number and types of documents they’re in charge of. When choosing a financial advisor, you should look for one that offers fee-only services so you know that they are not incentivized by commissions to suggest options that are not in your best interests.

5. What’s your availability and your preferred messaging channels?

This question aims to establish effective lines of communication and ensure the planner’s accessibility. Ask about their schedule, typical response times, and consultation availability to determine whether they can promptly and efficiently address your estate planning needs.

What about their preferred messaging channels? Some prefer traditional phone calls and emails, while others prefer newer video meetings or chats. Aligning channels ensures both parties can seamlessly collaborate and exchange critical information and documents.

6. Do you have any previous or current clients with a similar situation as mine?

A planner with extensive experience in the practice is invaluable. However, having a professional who has previously dealt with a situation like yours is even better. For example, if your primary concern is your business, or if you have sizeable investments in real estate and other assets, an experienced planner can offer tried-and-tested solutions and strategies to help you achieve your goals.

Also, inquiring about similar experiences enables you to gauge their understanding of your situation’s nuances. Every family has distinct dynamics, finances, and objectives, and your planner must be able to navigate them effectively.

7. How will you cooperate with my retinue?

Collaboration is essential in estate planning, which extends to more than just you and the planner. They must be able to work with your team of wealth advisors, attorneys, accountants, and other professionals you’ve hired for the job.

Inquire about their willingness to collaborate with your team. They should be ready to join and contribute their expertise to realize your goals.

8. Do you conduct periodic reviews?

For a small fee or retainer, some estate planners are willing to review your affairs periodically. They typically do so annually or after significant life events to determine if there are any necessary updates to your documents.

An experienced estate planner ensures your accounts are accurate. They also have ears on changes in estate laws to help you avoid potential liabilities down the line. Ultimately, their answer to this question should make you feel confident they’ll be able to realize your current will if something unexpected happens to you.

Secure Your Loved Ones with an Estate Planner

The right questions are critical to finding the best planner who aligns with your goals and can guide you through estate planning’s complexities. In turn, you may live confidently knowing your assets are secure and your loved ones provided for.

Fortunately, you won’t have to look further for estate planning services that can address your needs. Our professional financial advisors at Tencap Wealth Coaching can help you plan for your legacy with the guarantee that your assets are in good hands.

Contact us to begin your estate planning journey today.

Photo of Joe Griffin
Joe Griffin
CEO Tencap Wealth Coaching

Joe has been building and managing financial planning firms for the past 13 years. He loves the financial planning space and is very proud of the success and growth that has come from his proprietary marketing and leadership. Joe spent years being involved with the bright minds of the investment committee at Utah’s 529 college savings plan – a plan managing over 20 billion. Joe only works with firms that are stated fiduciaries on a client relationship. Joe is committed to leading a financial planning firm with ethics and integrity.  The money management philosophy that Tencap subscribes to is built on strong academics and is supported by a highly impressive academic board. We can't wait to coach you on the excellence that Tencap stands for.

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