We write a lot on this blog about what estate planning is truly about: it’s about laws, taxes, assets, and documents of course; but deep down, estate planning is about relationships.
As estate planners and advisors, an important part of what we do is creating the best estate planning or asset protection vehicle we can for our clients; but achieving this goal involves far more than simply writing a document—it also involves listening to our clients, reading between the lines of sensitive family interactions, and it often involves looking into the future to catch potential problems before they happen.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal describes the unorthodox lengths to which advisors will go to help clients achieve their goals. “For the family with the gridlocked siblings, [their financial advisor] arranged a session of personality-type charting with an outside expert. The tests showed one of the brothers-in-conflict to be a hard-driver who loved to make decisions on the fly. His brother was more analytical, and needed time to reach conclusions… Establishing that these conflicting traits are permanent characteristics has helped the brothers understand each other’s work habits and function better as a team. “
Our firm may not yet have had to arrange personality-type charting sessions, but this “running interference” or acting as a mediator and guide is exactly what we do. Evaluating goals, assessing relationships, identifying priorities and facilitating productive discussions is part and parcel of being a good estate planner and a great family attorney and advisor.
Estate planning and asset protection may sound like it’s about things and wealth, but a good advisor knows that it is always about family and relationships. Consider this when you’re looking for an estate planner: Do you want an advisor who is simply protecting your wealth, or do you want an advisor who is looking out for your future and your family?