Who can forget the USA Olympic men’s basketball “Dream Team”? With a roster that included Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson, the team of NBA legends blew away the competition at the 1992 Olympics. Believe it or not, you can assemble your own dream team — a financial dream team, that is.
Your wealth advisor, CPA, and estate planner may all be key players on your team. Depending on your situation, different team members could step in as the captain of your financial plan. This article will explain how these trusted advisors work together and what situations require a truly unified team of specialists.
At SWP, we do not prepare tax returns, but we do help clients be efficient with the taxes they pay and look for opportunities to minimize their tax bill. Below are several situations where we find it especially useful to collaborate with a CPA.
1. Portfolio withdrawals in retirement
You’ve spent decades planning and saving up for retirement, but the planning does not stop once you reach retirement age. Rather, it evolves into a new kind of planning with many goals in mind. One of these goals is to be tax-efficient with your distributions while supporting your immediate and long-term needs. The team of your CPA and wealth advisor can help manage tax brackets as you draw on your financial accounts.
2. Selling your business
If you own your own business, at some point, you likely plan to step away and sell the business to an interested buyer. Your CPA’s input and guidance can make a huge difference in structuring your exit to be most efficient from a tax perspective. Your wealth advisor can work with your CPA to take advantage of all the tax strategies available during the year of the sale. These changes can have a dramatic impact on your tax liability and financial plan.
3. Making charitable donations
In addition to being a great way to support those in need, charitable donations also create a variety of tax-saving opportunities that can benefit your long-term financial plan — as long as they are handled correctly. The tax laws around charitable donations can be tricky and challenging to navigate, and wealth advisors can collaborate with CPAs to help you maximize the value of your philanthropic efforts, both to you and the organization you wish to support.
4. Capturing capital losses
Your wealth advisor and CPA can collaborate on your full tax picture — e.g., possible carry forward losses and passive losses —and can help ensure your tax strategy is the right fit for your financial objectives.
Your estate planning attorney plays a key role on your team: create the necessary legal documents to ensure your wishes are carried out, help you take advantage of current estate transfer laws, and prepare for any potential future changes to those laws. At SWP, we help clients define their vision for a legacy, and then estate attorneys codify that vision. Below are several instances where it is important for your wealth advisor, estate planning attorney, and CPA to collaborate.
1. Setting up trusts
Establishing a trust can be a great way to ensure your assets go exactly where you want them to, protect your family’s privacy from probate records, and avoid the time-consuming (and stressful) probate process. If a trust is a key part of your long-term financial plan, an estate planning attorney will play a pivotal role in getting everything set up and handling the often-complicated paperwork that is required to establish a trust.
Setting up trusts is a key planning moment when everyone on your financial team needs to be in communication and on the same page. Your CPA can help you identify opportunities to reduce your estate tax burden, your wealth advisor can ensure the type of trust you choose is in line with your long-term financial objectives, and your estate planner will be the one to make sure the documents are drafted properly.
2. Titling assets & naming beneficiaries
Even if a trust is not part of your financial plan, you will still need to decide where your assets should go when you are gone. An estate planner can help you write and formalize your will, properly name all the beneficiaries, and ensure the right assets are earmarked for the right heirs. On top of that, having an estate planner who knows you and has worked closely with you can be helpful as your loved ones navigate an often emotional estate administration process.
3. Power of Attorney
The likelihood that you will need someone to manage your affairs increases as you get older. If that happens, you want the person in charge of your finances to be someone you trust, and a power of attorney (POA) arrangement can ensure that happens.
Your estate planner can help you select the right power of attorney arrangement — e.g., durable or non-durable, medical, limited, and so on — for your needs, and they can also take care of drawing up the paperwork and making sure everything is done correctly.
4. Gifting strategies & exemptions
Gifting strategies & exemptions are other areas where multiple members of your financial team should be actively communicating and collaborating. Your estate planner, your CPA, and your financial advisor will need to work together to identify tax-friendly gifting strategies and take advantage of potential estate tax exemptions to reduce your estate’s taxable burden, while still ensuring the long-term plan for your estate’s assets are in line with your financial objectives.
So, how often should all the members of your team be working together? It depends: periods of major life transitions (such as having children, retirement, selling a business, and so on) are opportune times for your whole team to assemble. Often, we recommend that your whole team meets once per year so that you can provide an update on your financial picture and your team can collaborate on issues and ideas. At SWP, we can facilitate these meetings and play a key role in the conversation.
There is a lot of power in having a financial dream team. You have worked hard to build your wealth, and the right team can help ensure you are utilizing all the resources at your disposal to meet your short- and long-term financial goals.
The team at SWP is here to help, and we are happy to coordinate the meetings and get your team together. To learn more, we invite you to connect with our team.
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