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Definitions of Services

Many terms are casually tossed around by service providers. For example, some of the firms on our list claim to provide “estate planning” services. However, they are not attorneys and are not qualified to prepare estate planning documents. They may work with attorneys to prepare documents; in which case they are not providing estate planning. They are merely coordinating the preparation of the estate plan and perhaps helping to brainstorm ideas. Or they may have pre-packaged software to create documents without attorney supervision; in which case there is no competently trained person reviewing your documents.

Advertising for “estate planning” when the company does not have attorneys on staff is like a health insurance company claiming to provide medical care, or a drug store claiming to provide dental care (because they sell toothbrushes and will provide you with a list of local dentists). To be polite, this is false advertising. 

Here is how we defined our terms:

Asset Protection Planning means the organization of one’s personal affairs and assets so as to shield the assets from future liabilities that they may become subject to. Asset protection planning is provided by a lawyer. It may include the purchase of insurance. However, insurance policies are sold by insurance agents. Insurance by itself is not asset protection planning.

A Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is a formal recognition of expertise in the areas of financial planning, taxes, insurance, estate planning, and retirement (such as with 401(k)s). The designation is awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. to individuals who successfully complete the CFP Board’s initial exams, then continue ongoing annual education programs to sustain their skills and certification.

Personal Development Coaching (in the area of sudden wealth). Personal development focuses on increasing your self-awareness, looking at life goals, personal challenges and long-standing aspirations. Personal development coaching aims to evaluate these life changes, whilst assessing your strengths and weaknesses to improve certain areas of your life. The persons on this list have experience in helping people dealing with sudden wealth.

Estate Planning means the preparation for the distribution and management of a person’s estate upon incapacity and at death through the use of wills, trusts, insurance policies, and other arrangements. Estate planning services are provided by a lawyer.

Mental Health Counseling refers to the diagnosing mental and emotional disorders by clinical mental health counselors – and specifically when it comes to issues surrounding financial windfalls (aka, sudden wealth). They evaluate their clients’ mental and physical states, identify addictions and behavioral problems, and determine how ready their clients are for treatment. After developing treatment strategies and presenting them to clients and their families, counselors help clients gain skills and learn behaviors that put them on the path to mental wellness.

Probate Administration refers to services of a lawyer to assist in the process of winding up the affairs of a person who has died, and includes asking the court to appoint a personal representative (sometimes called an “executor”) of the deceased person’s estate, and to determine if there is a valid will or other relevant document.

A Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), according to Investopia, is a person or firm who advises high-net-worth individuals on investments and manages their portfolios. RIAs have a fiduciary duty to their clients, which means they have a fundamental obligation to provide investment advice that always acts in their clients’ best interests. RIAs are also required to disclose any possible conflicts of interest to their clients and act in an ethical manner in all of their business dealings. Some RIAs charge clients a percentage of their assets under management while others charge either an hourly or a flat fee to dispense advice. Advisors who choose the latter model for their practices must obtain a Series 65 license.

Tax Planning is the analysis of a financial situation or plan to ensure that all elements work together to allow you to pay the lowest taxes possible. Tax planning may be provided by a tax attorney, a Certified Public Accountant, or a Certified Financial Planner. 

Trust Administration refers to the services of a law firm to assist in administering the assets of a trust. This may include legal interpretation of the terms of a trust, paying taxes and other debts, and distributing the assets of the trust according to the terms of the trust.

Family Business Services – At some point, all family businesses will undergo Transition –whether to a new owner, some form of sale, or dissolution. It is essential to plan for the Transition as early as possible within the life of the business. The relevant services are best provided by a coordinated team and fall into four major areas.

  • Family Business Transition (Exiting; Succession) – This includes the creation and implementation of the Plan, from the perspective of both the family and the business. Providing education and support for the owners and the next generation. And, perhaps most importantly, facilitating family meetings and mediating disputes to insure a smooth Transition.
  • Family Business Advocate – The primary functions are vetting potential advisors, coordinating the work of the advisory team, providing oversight of the advisory team, and facilitating advisory council meetings. The goal is to make certain that there is a shared path to fulfilling the goals and needs of the Family and the Family Business.
  • Virtual Assistants – Provide services to family members that alleviates them of tasks best done by others, so that they can concentrate more on the business and the family. This could include maintaining an appointment calendar, assisting with travel arrangements and other tasks as required.
  • Financial/Bookkeeping Service – The goal is to assist families in monitoring their complex financial situation and achieve financial goals. To include budgeting, bill payment, distribution of funds and property related services. Would be coordinated with the Family Business Advocate service so that the family could easily track their various assets.