What Role Does the Accountant or CPA Have in Estate Planning?

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Learn Why You Need An Accountant or CPA on Your Planning Team

For many people, the accountant or CPA is one of their most trusted advisors. This seems to be especially true for people who own businesses. They have utilized the advice of the accountant in many diverse situations. Estate planning is no exception. The accountant or CPA can provide clarity as to registration of assets, financial statements and net worth determination, asset valuation, and current and future tax issues. Additionally, as strategies are implemented the accountant can provide tax expertise to the team and tax return preparation as needed.

People commonly make plans for the orderly transfer of their property upon their death to relatives other persons, organizations, or trusts to be set up for the benefit of relatives. Such forethought is known as estate planning and is accomplished under the guidance of attorneys, often working closely with accountants. The attorney’s role centers around preparing wills and, in many cases, trust agreements. The accountant’s role consists of suggesting planning techniques consistent with the objective of minimizing transfer costs (federal estate taxes, state inheritance taxes, and fees and expenses). In this capacity, an accountant often determines expected transfer costs under various options. An accountant may also play an important role in advising his or her client on accounting matters pertaining to trusts that are to be established.

What Questions Do I Ask the Accountant or CPA When I Interview Them?

What credentials do they have? Are they a CPA  (Certified Public Accountant)?

How much experience do they have regarding trust and estate planning administration and tax preparation?

For how many clients are they currently preparing Trust and Estate returns?

How do they get compensated? Hourly or flat fee?