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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Planning is not a one-size-fits-all proposition

In this article from the Globe and Mail, Tim Cestnick talks about the fact that tax planning is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Some people value simplicity more than tax savings, for example. I agree with his message, especially since it echoes my approach to estate planning. Not everyone is the same. Not everyone feels the same way about things.

The key for lawyers and other planners is to let the clients talk. Let them tell you what is top of mind for them. I tend to ask my clients questions such as "what's your biggest worry about your children when you pass away?" or "ideally, what would you like to see happen with your business?" These open-ended questions net me revealing information about family dynamics, past problems, and family values. I can then drill down to get the additional facts I need.

This kind of discussion also tends to make a client understand his or her own values better. Though the client might have come to see me to get "a Will", the client leaves with peace of mind and a workable plan for the future.

It seems to me that Mr. Cestnick agrees with my belief that planning - whether tax planning or estate planning - is about individual people, not about money.

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