When it is time to begin one's estate planning, working with capable advisers becomes very important.
Often, because this is an expertise that a person does not need very often, it is difficult to find the "right" estate planning adviser.
While many lawyers can prepare simple wills, estate planning can be complex, making a simple will inappropriate in many situations.
If you do not know any estate planners personally or do not have a good recommendation from someone, one option is to work with a member of the nearest estate planning council.
Members of such organizations include lawyers, accountants, trust officers, insurance professionals, stockbrokers and others for whom estate planning is a significant part of their work.
The Mid-Ohio Valley Estate Planning Council has members in Parkersburg and surrounding areas.
When you contact an individual for estate planning work, you might ask whether he or she is a member.
An alternative is to ask whether the adviser attends continuing education seminars on estate planning. Most financial advisers must meet requirements for continuing education, and those in the estate planning field will choose seminars that can provide current information to them to benefit you.
Using estate planning council membership and attendance at appropriate seminars as two factors in your selection criteria may be beneficial.
Having experienced advisers who know the best way to protect your hard-earned property and find the most appropriate ways to lower the taxes owed can make all the difference.
Deborah Miller, JD is the director of planned giving at the West Virginia University Foundation.