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  • Writer's pictureCook Tillman

Key Considerations For Financial Planners When Advising Clients On Estate Planning

As a financial planner, you know that protecting a client’s wealth through proper estate planning is critical to any financial plan. Providing such advice, however, requires you to employ a different toolkit than usual. That is why our team at Cook Tillman is here to aid financial planners in navigating estate planning with their clients. Let’s discuss common questions when incorporating estate planning into a client’s financial plan.

What are the primary objectives of estate planning, and why is it crucial for financial planners to integrate it into their client advisory services?

As a financial planner, you're concerned with a client's overall financial health. You routinely assess a family’s financial profile and family dynamics to develop strategies for the growth and protection of their wealth. Estate planning extends this safeguarding to future generations. Strategies employed may include managed portfolios or life insurance for protection. Our goal is to ensure that whatever wealth clients amass in their lifetime passes on to the right people in the right way, whether by tax planning or charitable giving.

How can financial planners assess and prioritize individual clients' unique needs and goals when developing an estate plan?

When developing an estate plan, much of your strategy can be built by asking the right questions, many of which you likely are already asking during financial assessments. Does the client have a blended family, and what is the age of their children? What are the horizon times for finances and investments? What are their short-term and long-term financial goals? 

Estate planning involves asking many of the same questions. Family dynamics and overall money objectives are certainly considered. Estate planning also considers near-term earning potential: if someone is starting a business that is regarded as highly appreciable, they may see a rapid rise in profits sooner than another business growing more gradually. In short, estate planning and financial planning both require long-term and short-term evaluations of finances and assets, which are susceptible to change and affected by a client’s saving and spending habits. This is why staying updated with a client’s needs and goals is essential to ensure their financial and estate plans correlate as their financial situation ebbs and flows. 

What are the key legal and tax considerations financial planners should know when advising clients on estate planning strategies?

The most notable tax consideration regarding estate planning is the federal estate tax. If a client is pushing up against exemption levels (currently at $13.6 million per person; $27.2 million for a married couple), proper planning is essential. A client’s need for asset protection or income tax planning should also be considered. Tools available to plan for such things vary from state to state. Fortunately, Tennessee’s trust code encompasses many of the best practices employed throughout the country. Consequently, it has consistently ranked in the top three states in the U.S. for the strength of its trust code, which benefits planners and clients.

How can financial planners effectively communicate and collaborate with other professionals, such as estate attorneys and tax specialists, to ensure comprehensive and seamless estate planning for their clients?

Estate planning can be emotionally complex for clients and involve considerable assets, so financial planners need to achieve seamless communication with other professionals, such as estate attorneys and tax specialists, to ease this process. It is an excellent idea to meet with clients regularly and review an estate plan every two to four years, more frequently if the client has a higher net worth. If regular financial planning meetings reveal drastic changes in the client’s financial needs or goals, you should encourage the client to meet with their estate planning attorney so that everyone is kept apprised of the client’s changing needs and has ample time to adapt. 

Financial planners should also encourage clients to meet with their estate planning attorney regularly to review their plans in relation to finances and ensure they are still on the right track, just as the client would do with their tax planning or financial investment profile. It is wise to incorporate estate planning into your client’s financial strategies, like taxes and investments.


How can financial planners stay informed about changes in laws and regulations related to estate planning, and how can they proactively update and adjust their clients' plans accordingly?

Maintaining relationships with estate planning attorneys is a great way to stay informed of federal tax and estate planning changes and their potential effects on your clients. At Cook Tillman, we aim to be proactive in providing that service. We are approved by the Certified Financial Planner Board to provide continuing education seminars for financial planners for which they can receive continuing education credits. The financial planners who take us up on this opportunity tend to keep in touch and call us if they ever need insight on tax law changes. We encourage you to schedule one of our seminars through the CFP Board in Nashville or by contacting us directly. Your journey to more informed and thorough estate planning can begin today.

Our team at Cook Tillman is happy to work with esteemed financial planners to create a more informed and supportive estate planning network in Nashville. We can be reached at 615-370-2444 or via our website. We look forward to working with you in the future.


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