When a baseball team needs a good shortstop, they don’t trade for a first baseman. And when they need a left-handed reliever they don’t call in tomorrow’s starting pitcher from the bullpen. The team’s coach and owners work together to make sure the right players are in the right positions at the right time. The same principles should apply when you are planning for retirement.
If you have accumulated more assets than the average person, you may find yourself with a whole team of advisers when it comes time to put together your estate plan. Unfortunately, having a bunch of specialists at your beck and call does not mean they play well together. In order to put together a winning strategy, you, the team owner, need to bring in a coach that can get your attorney, CPA, financial planner, broker, insurance agents, and other advisors working together.
It is up to you to decide who should serve as your coach, but a lot of people end up picking their attorney or financial planner for this role because they, more than your other advisers, must have an idea of what your goals and priorities are in order to do their jobs well. This intimate knowledge allows them to translate ideals into action, and keep the big picture in mind.
Once priorities are set, and a coach is hired, the coach should have free reign to build a team. The first step is seeing what players are already on the roster. Have your coach call a meeting of all of your advisers so they can all meet one another and get a fresh overview of your goals. This meeting is often difficult to schedule, but it is worth the effort.
At the meeting, and each time you meet with a member of your team individually, reinforce the idea that they all work for you, and you want them all to work together. If this is not clear, and they are not all on board with it, one may inadvertently undermine the work of another.
Don’t hesitate to empower your coach to hire and fire new advisors as they see fit. It might be that you have been using the same CPA for 20 years, but if they aren’t familiar with the estate planning tools your attorney is going to use, they are probably not a good fit for the job anymore.
Likewise, an advisor that won’t share information or work with other players on the team should be cut. Someone who attempts to hoard your information, time, or business is not serving you well. How they treat the other members of your advisory team should be seen as a reflection of how much they respect you.
Never forget that your retirement and estate planning team exists to serve you, and to make your vision a reality. You are the team owner. You call the shots. And you should be satisfied with the work that is being done on your behalf. If you aren’t, it’s time to make some changes.