Wills, Trusts & Estates
Law Office of Steven M Berger, LLC


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Do you need a Financial Adviser?

Most of my estate planning clients have a relationship with a Financial Adviser. This is common situation whether they came to the office via a referral or they found us on their own. Among the wealthier clients even a higher percentage have Financial Advisers. Interestingly, there are also a small number of clients who have accumulated significant assets on their own without outside assistance. Usually, they own a business or have significant stock holdings held unto for a long period of time. I have yet to see a wealthy day trader to come in for estate planning appointment. I am not in a position to make predictions based on my experience, but I can make some observations. First, Financial Planners are more likely to encourage their clients to do their Estate Planning with a professional. Second, children of clients who were financially successful are more likely to have a financial planner. They have wealth and are likely follow the successful path of their parents. Third, clients with Financial Planners are less likely to make impulsive decisions that destroy wealth by pulling out of the market at the wrong time or placing too much of their portfolio in one asset. The Financial Adviser acts as a coach getting the best out of the client’s earnings and assets. The Financial Adviser fulfills the need for the client to have a consensus on their financial decisions.

On the other hand, I do see the occasional wealthy person who has done everything on their own. The general pattern is that person has invested in stocks or mutual funds for a long period of time usually holding unto those winning stocks. They are often quite confident in their abilities and are often reluctant to seek help with their estate plan. My concern is that if their mental sharpness should fade their past success could impair their judgment. I also wonder how many people following their same pattern of investing were not successful. They own are not in my office for estate planning because their investing mistakes have cost them an opportunity to pass wealth on to the next generation or to leave a legacy with their lifetime of earnings.

My conclusion is that a Financial Plan and someone who holds you accountable to those goals greatly increases the likelihood that you will reach the golden years with a large nest egg. I would not put my faith in the television commercials showing how easy it is to make your way to financial independence sitting by the pool following the stock market on your notebook computer.

If you are looking for a financial adviser, I can provide you a list of names and help you find somebody that fits your financial needs.  I can also point you to someone you can relate to on a personal level.  Your relationship with an adviser should be a long one. An adviser is evaluated just like a coach. Performance is first and personality is a close second in choosing who is the right person for you.