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Advisor Insights

Don't Make the Client's Problem Your Problem

Contributor Natalie Choate with what not to do to 'help' clients.

What happens when a person dies without a proper estate plan? Often, unnecessary taxes, higher expenses, and other bad consequences ensue. When the decedent's widow and children are sitting in the advisor's office looking at these consequences, they are upset and sad and worried about their financial future. And the advisor feels their pain. The advisor would like to alleviate that pain. The advisor would like to be the savior who can fix everything and make those bad consequences go away.

If you are that advisor, and you can find the novel theory, the brilliant fix, or the clever workaround that will make the problem go away--wonderful! By all means, go ahead. But be wary of turning the client's problem into your problem. I occasionally hear of "planning ideas" that involve backdating documents, ignoring facts, bending rules, and/or other unacceptable moves to supposedly fix a problem. Using ideas like this will make the problem worse--and potentially land you in trouble along with your clients.