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Estate Planning Requires a Team Effort

When it comes to getting your estate in order, you shouldn't try to fly solo. Estate planning is more of a team sport. Obviously, you'll need to get your attorney, accountant, insurance agent and financial advisor in the game. However, many people don't realize that they should also include their family and even a religious advisor in the estate planning process.

Read on to learn who you should recruit for your estate planning team to ensure a truly effective game plan.

The Legal Expert

Of course, it's obvious that you'll need to work with an attorney to pull together your estate plan. Estate planning involves many different components, including property and probate law, taxes, wills and trusts. Don't try to handle this complicated process on your own. Turn to an experienced estate planning attorney to help you build your plan.

The Number-cruncher

You should also get your accountant involved. After all, your accountant can give your attorney all kinds of crucial financial information, such as how your business is structured, how much it's worth and how much you pay in taxes each year.

Plus, it's important for your accountant to be aware of any trusts you've created or charitable gifts you've made as part of your estate plan. They can help determine the tax consequences of these estate planning decisions.

The Financial Pro

It's also important to include your financial advisor and/or insurance agent in the estate planning process. These financial professionals can offer tons of valuable information to your attorney, such as the values and beneficiaries of your retirement accounts, annuities and life insurance policies and how these accounts are titled. Your financial advisor can also ensure that your various accounts are properly funded and that all of your estate plan beneficiary designations are up to date.

Your Nearest and Dearest

Although many people forget to include their family in the estate planning process, it's important to get your loved ones involved. After all, you are likely setting up this estate plan for their benefit.

An estate plan ensures that your assets will go to the loved ones of your choice. It will also help your family to save a great deal on taxes, court costs and attorney fees. Without an estate plan, your property may slip out of your family's hands after you die—your loved ones could be burdened with complex financial matters.

Once you have your estate plan in place, be sure to talk to your family about it. If you don't share the specifics of your estate plan with your family, they may end up arguing over your "true" intentions after you die. By spelling out all the details, you'll create peace of mind for your loved ones and ensure they won't be confused or surprised when the time comes.

A Religious Advisor

You may also want to include your religious or spiritual advisor in your estate planning process. They may be able to guide you when it comes to making difficult decisions. Some religions include specific guidelines about what should happen to one's property after they die. Plus, a religious advisor can help you create harmony within your family and possibly assist you with your funeral pre-planning.