March 18, 2018
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You've Earned Your Money, Now Plan What to Do with It

Planning what to do with the money you earn today, the assets you accumulate throughout your lifetime, and the distribution of those assets at the time of your death is, for most of us, the elephant in the room. While there are plenty of people to help you, and plenty of friends that will offer referrals, the best thing you can do is to consider your financial needs, goals and objectives. These are not cast in stone. Throughout your lifetime they will change. How you consider the following questions can help you determine what professional relationship is best suited for your needs.

What financial needs/goals/objectives do I need to plan for? The list can be as long or as short as you need it to be-college savings, retirement planning, long-term care planning, investment advice, small business planning, trust and estate planning. Let your needs match the expertise you require.

  • CPA/Accountants-A certified public accountant is licensed by the state in which you live to prepare taxes, prepare financial audits and performs accounting services for individuals, small business, or large business.
  • Financial planners-Think big picture. Think managing everything from your savings account to your 401k to your stocks and bonds. Financial planners are experts at identifying your goals and developing the strategies to achieve them.
  • Stockbrokers-Traditionally, stockbrokers are sellers of stocks and bonds. However, today stockbrokers can also function as financial planners. The reverse is also true, financial planners sometimes sell investments.
  • Insurance agents-From property, life, casualty and annuities, insurance agents can help manage your short and long-term insurance needs.
  • Estate planning attorneys-Attorneys are focused on developing strategies to ensure that your estate will pass to your heirs in the most efficient manner possible. More specifically, the most tax efficient manner possible. They are best suited to help manage the tax liabilities of your estate. They also prepare wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney and health-related legal documents.

How do I pay? Like any purchase you make, you need to know how much it costs and what are the payment terms. Most importantly, the terms have to meet your expectations and comfort level. Below are the most common methods of payment for professional services:

  • Hourly rate-note that all services do not have the hourly rate; research done by the stockbroker will be different from that of a lawyer preparing a will.
  • Retainer
  • Percentage of the value of the assets managed
  • Fixed fee for a particular service
  • Commission on what is bought or sold
  • Combination of the above methods of payment

Are you comfortable with the big, well known firms or the small, independent companies? You've heard the big names all of your life-they advertise and they have big advertising budgets. They also have glossy brochures, sophisticated technology, research departments and support staff. But they can also be large and impersonal. Their professional opposites, independents, do it all themselves and are unencumbered by policies, procedures and quotas. Personal attention is their specialty.

Getting Started
Implement your plan by asking for referrals and interviewing several candidates. Remember, as perfect as they seem on paper, you have to like them, be honest with them, and have mutual respect. Know what services they offer, what licenses are needed to do the work, their education, and how they will work with you. Next, you must check credentials.

  • CPA or public accountant-Contact your state board of accountancy; The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants lists CPAs who are certified as Personal Financial Specialists.
  • Financial planners-Check the following databases: The Financial Planning Association's Planner Search, Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors
  • Stockbrokers-Contact your state securities regulator to check licensing; and SEC registration at
  • Insurance agents-Contact your state insurance commissioner.
  • Estate planning attorney-Visit the websites of the American Bar Association, The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.



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