I have a neighbor who is a big do-it-yourselfer. He cleans his gutters every spring, prunes his rose bushes and replaces his front porch light.
I’m always impressed by people who fearlessly tackle any task. But even my neighbor knows when to summon the pros. He called in contractors to install a new garage door and to repave his driveway.
If you’re a DIYer for tax returns and investment decisions, that’s great. You’re taking charge of your future. Still, it’s always wise to have a stable of professionals you can call on for expert advice. Like my neighbor, knowing when a task is beyond your ability is, truly, the hallmark of a smart DIYer.
Here are three people you’ll want to have on your team to watch your back and protect your assets. Together, they’ll give you unparalleled peace of mind.
I listed this first because, well, I am one. So I have firsthand knowledge of how important my work is to my clients’ wellbeing.
When you collaborate with any certified financial planner, you know you’re on the right track to meet your goals: the freedom to retire, pay for your children’s education or live the kind of lifestyle you envision.
Even if you’ve crafted your own financial map, a financial planner can review it, pointing out shortcomings and other options to help you meet your aims. And if you lack expertise in areas such as insurance or investments, a planner can ably fill in the gaps.
Yes, it can be uncomfortable to think about who will raise your children and receive your property should you die suddenly. But it’s even scarier not to think about those things.
If you and your spouse live in California, have an estate plan in place and die with a home and assets worth $1 million, your heirs will save $23,000 in probate fees. That money stays in your family rather than going to cover court fees. It will also be available quickly, rather than in the 18 months the probate court typically needs to sort out assets.
Another benefit is that you can set the age that your children will receive your assets. The probate court gives heirs the full amount at age 18. But with a plan in place, you can delay and stagger payments to ensure that your children have the maturity to make wise financial decisions.
A seasoned estate planner will create the documents—wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney and healthcare powers—that carry out your wishes after you’re gone.
Maybe you’re one of those people who delights in hunkering down each spring at the dining room table with your donation receipts, W-2 forms and mileage records. But most people feel a little queasy at the thought of preparing their own tax return. That’s reason enough to work closely with a CPA.
You give her a neat stack of records, and she’ll do more than fill in all those blanks on your tax return. She’ll also suggest deductions you might have missed that will ease next year’s tax burden. And she’ll educate you about tax-law changes that affect your bottom line.
One of the most valuable services a CPA provides is the reassurance that if you’re audited, you won’t be the one explaining the math and the deductions to the IRS agents.
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