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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Who needs estate planning????

For years Bob and I have been preaching about the need for accounting professionals to be involved in the estate planning process.  As the most trusted part of a client's advisory team, the accountant is very often the first (or only) person that the client turns to for guidance.  Over the last few years, as the estate exemption has increased, however,  too many CPAs have been lulled into a false sense that if a client doesn't need tax planning, then they do not need estate planning.

In the last few days it has come out that the legendary musician, Prince, died without a will, and without any estate or tax planning.  Clearly, with an estate valued at in excess of $300 million, Prince was a candidate for some significant tax planning, and certainly his advisors failed him by not pushing him to do something.  While all of your clients likely do not have estates at that value (wouldn't it be nice if they did), their need for estate planning is still significant.  Remember estate planning and estate tax planning, while often utilized interchangeably, do not mean the same thing.  Even those clients that do not have estates in the tens of millions, need to plan to make sure that their assets go to the people that they desire, in the amount that they desire and at the time they desire.  In addition, the planning allows the client to determine who will be involved in the administration, rather than letting someone else decide.

With tax season now behind you, focusing on your clients' other needs, like the need to review, update or institute an estate plan, provides tremendous value to your relationship with your clients and provides the guidance that many of them clearly need.

We would love to hear your thoughts on how you have done this in the past and steps you might be taking for 2016....


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