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learnb4, you asked:

<< I just got through reading your article on A Trust as an IRA Beneficiary. At the end, you say "see your estate planner." We have never really consulted in anyone other than our lawyer for our wills. So often I see in articles consult your tax person or financial planner. We have spoke to financial planners but it seems they don't know enough about tax consequences and only want to sell more investments they are pushing. So should one consult in a CPA (Certified Public Acct) when making retirement decisions? I recently called our lawyer that did our wills about possible estate taxes and he suggested we wait until after the presidential election as the limit could go up to one million before estate taxes are taken. But who truly is an "estate planner?" other than ourselves. Who knows the tax consequences best. >>

Probably the FIRST place to stat is with an attorney that specializes in Estate Planning. They are most often referred to as Estate Planning Attorneys. Those who ARE "Estate Planning Attorneys" will be VERY knowledgeable about this issues including the tax issues.

However, estate planning is a TEAM project and most often involves not only the attorney, (the estate planning attorney) but also a tax accountant (not just a CPA because all CPA are NOT tax accountants, though most Tax Accountants are CPA's). Very often this team effort also involves an experienced knowledgeable life insurance agent (who are also often an expert at estate planning as well), a financial planner, an investment advisor, a realtor, or any other expert that may be appropriate with regard to the particular assets you hold.

So, if you're current lawyer really isn't an Estate Tax Planner, you might ask him to recommend some that you might call. If he says he can do it, ask questions and make sure he has the experience and knowledge to do it. Just because a lawyer can draw up legal paper like a will or a trust, doesn't mean they know HOW to do estate planning well.

As this is a "team" effort, someone is going to have to be the coordinator (the quarterback that calls the plays). Most often, that person would be the one who has the training and overall knowledge of estate planning issues (not necessarily an expert in any one of the professional expert areas). This could be the Financial Planner who specializes in this area. Using such a Financial Planner could save you some $$$$ over using the attorney or a tax accountant depending on just what that planner charges for the services. Very often it's the attorney who calls the shots, but it can also be the Tax Accountant who specializes in this area that does. . . .or it could even be the Life Insurance Agent that fills this roll.

The important thing is to find that individual who is REALLY and expert on Estate Planning and can help you work with a team to get all the various things set up correctly so it all most benefits YOU.

I hope this gives you a good picture and is of some help.
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