Estate plans originate in a number of ways, but in every one, early on in the process, the client interacts with at least one “estate planner” who may be an accountant, insurance professional, financial advisor or attorney. Typically, a professional within this group of advisors will introduce the client to the others. This initial process begs the question: Who is an “estate planner?” What are our individual roles? And how do we effectively work together? The parameters often become confusing because there are so many different aspects and angles in every complex estate plan and no one individual within this group can possibly take on all of the required roles and responsibilities.
This article, by Avi Z. Kestenbaum, co-chair of Meltzer Lippe’s Trust & Estates Department, originally published in Trusts & Estates, argues that a coordinated, team-based approach to estate planning is the best mechanism for ensuring that important “big picture” and compliance issues are not missed or overlooked. Leading such a team will be a designated “quarterback” drawn either from the numerous advisors interacting with the client, or — if none of these individuals appear to be qualified to fulfill this key role — an independent, outside specialist.
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