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You Can’t Always Rely on your Financial Planner’s Advice for your Estate Planning Needs

By January 19, 2015Wills

Be wary of a Financial Planner who is not an estate planning attorney who thinks she is qualified to review your wills or estate planning documents for their legal substance. She would be stepping into an area in which she is not competent or licensed to advise you, and she may even be breaking the law.

Unfortunately, financial planners do this quite often, usually unaware of what a problem it is or can be. How will your Financial Planner know if there is something fundamentally wrong with your Will, other than if you have a wrong designee, or if it appears old? You might rely on your financial planner’s review and avoid seeking the competent legal counsel that you truly need. If you rely on your planner’s advice that your will is satisfactory for your needs, and it isn’t, there will likely be trouble for you, your beneficiaries, and your planner.

Estate planning law is different all over the country and it changes constantly, if usually subtly. Only someone who actually practices in it can provide competent advice. Even lawyers go to other lawyers to have their Estate Planning work done. Yes, it costs money to hire a lawyer. But what will it cost if you don’t?

Your financial planner, providing she is not an attorney, will not be able to interpret or provide legal advice about your legal documents, but if you show them to her, she can at least be assured of their existence. If your documents seem old or obsolete, your planner might advise you to consult your attorney.

I am not advocating the unauthorized practice of law by your planner, but if she sees that your will was drafted thirty years ago, or if all of your beneficiaries are deceased, she may correctly advise you to seek legal counsel to see if it is necessary to update your will. She will also serve to remind you of your need for estate planning documents, no matter the size of your estate. Those are the types of things you can rely on from your Financial Planner. That’s all.


Mike Garry

Author Mike Garry

Michael Garry is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner and a NAPFA-registered Financial Advisor. He is a member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) and the Financial Planning Association (FPA).

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