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A Winning Estate Planning Team

The Sochi Winter Olympics are in full-swing and, with them, a spirit of solidarity. There is something special about the Olympians' demonstration of sportsmanship, camaraderie, and mutual respect for one another that is inspiring. As I was watching the coverage over the weekend, I began thinking about teamwork and how it relates to my role as an estate planning attorney.

I am often asked by clients whether or not they need a financial advisor in addition to me as their estate planning attorney. My answer always is the same - estate planning is not a one-man team. Instead, clients can benefit from having both (and perhaps even more professionals, such as CPAs and insurance consultants) in their corner.

My role is to advise clients of current laws, create estate plans to honor their wishes, and draft the legal documents necessary to achieve their goals. I am concerned with passing an estate to heirs in the most tax-efficient manner possible and ensuring that the intended beneficiaries are benefited and often protected; thus, I am focused on the future. Attorneys are the only professionals who can legally create estate plans. In contrast, a financial planner can assess your current financial affairs and provide advice on matters affecting you now, such as debt management, retirement, or investment options. By having both these professionals in your arsenal, you will be armed with the best advice for now and later.

In addition, a team-approach keeps professionals accountable to one another - they can seek advice when needed and rely on the other team members for support or information, if necessary. Often, a client may feel more confident about a particular strategy or implementation method if more than one professional is in favor of it. The big picture is easier to see if input is received from several different viewpoints.

If there is more than one professional advising a client regarding estate planning and finances, it is very important that the professionals work together. Without secure finances, a strong estate plan cannot be created. Without an estate plan, even the most secure finances are subject to an uncertain future. Make sure that your hired professionals are open to working with one another. After all, their objective should be the same - to please the client!

At McBrayer, we take pride in the personalized nature of our estate planning and estate administration services. We are happy to work with other professionals so as to ensure that estate planning goals are met. If you would like to know more, give us a call or contact us through our website.

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Terri R. Stallard is a Member of McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC and practices from the Lexington and Louisville offices. Ms. Stallard concentrates her practice in the areas of estate planning, trust and estate administration, and charitable planning. She is licensed to practice law in Kentucky, Georgia, and Tennessee, and in the U.S. Tax Court. She can be reached at tstallard@mmlk.com or (859) 231-8780, ext. 1258.

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