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What to Prepare Before Seeing a Financial Advisor

When speaking with your financial advisor for the first time, be prepared.

Before seeing a financial advisor, there are a few things you should do to prepare. You may be considering seeing a financial advisor to gain some assistance in making sure that you are utilizing your assets in a way that is most beneficial for you, your family, and your future. Whatever your reason, a financial advisor can help you to understand and make complex financial decisions and is certainly a valuable resource to have. However, there are a few things you should do before seeing a financial advisor so that you can get the most out of your meeting.

Keep reading to learn more about the following items you will want to have squared before meeting with a financial advisor:

List of Assets 

The first item that you will want to have prepared in advance of your financial advisor meeting is a full list of your assets. This includes any property, financial accounts, insurance, or other investments that you may have. By creating a list in advance of each of your assets, you will be able to give your financial advisor a better idea of where you are financially, and what the best course of action might be regarding your future goals. Whether you have a lot of assets or not, it is important for your financial advisor to be aware of everything that you have in order to make the best recommendations.

Retirement Accounts

All retirement accounts—including your 401(k) account, social security, IRA accounts, and more—will want to be discussed with your financial advisor. These accounts often hold a significant portion of your assets and will be a big factor in your advising. Additionally, your financial advisor can offer you the best advice on how to invest money held in your IRA accounts and other retirement accounts to help you to increase growth and plan for a more secure retirement. Your financial advisor may also be able to give you advice on how best to pass on your retirement accounts to your loved ones in your Estate Plan in the event that you pass away before utilizing all of the funds. Often, people will plan to leave some of their retirement account money to their children as an inheritance, and your financial advisor may be able to assist you with this goal.

Tax Return 

You will also want to bring a copy of your most recent tax return when you meet with your financial advisor. This will help them get a better understanding of your overall financial picture and may provide some helpful insights into how you can better manage your finances going forward. Especially if you're looking for help with tax planning, your financial advisor will need to see your most recent return in order to help with minimization strategies.

Monthly Budget 

Another important item to bring with you when meeting with a financial advisor is a monthly budget. This will give them a better idea of your spending habits and how much room you have in your budget to make additional investments or save for the future. This can also be helpful if you are hoping to make some changes to your spending habits and are not quite sure where to start.

List of Questions 

Of course, you will also want to come prepared with a list of questions for your financial advisor. This could include anything from asking about their experience to more specific questions about how they can assist you in reaching your financial goals. It can be helpful to write down your questions in advance so that you don't forget anything during the meeting. This way, you can be sure to get all the information you need and can make informed financial decisions.

Estate Planning Documents 

Many aspects of your Estate Plan will have an impact on your overall finances. Bringing all your estate planning documents with you to your financial advising meeting, including your Will or Trust, will help your financial advisor understand how you want your assets to be distributed after you pass away. This can be helpful in determining how best to invest those assets now so that they are able to provide for your loved ones later. Additionally, if you have any questions about how your Estate Plan will impact your finances, your financial advisor will be able to help. While your financial advisor will not be the only source you'll want to turn to for your estate planning needs, they are a great addition to making sure that you are on the right track with your financial goals for the future. Don't have an Estate Plan? This would be an ideal time to start discussing one with your advisor. They can assist you in creating a plan that meets your unique needs and helps you to understand the different options available, like whether to get a Will or Trust-based Estate Plan.

A Will is a legal estate planning document that allows you to pass on your assets to your loved ones, who will be known as your Beneficiaries within your Will. You can put any assets you wish within your Will, whether it be a car or something that holds sentimental value, like a quilt that your grandmother made. A Trust, on the other hand, is an estate planning tool that allows you to transfer your assets into a Trust. This transfers the responsibility of your assets to another, known as your Trustee, who will be responsible for the assets until you pass away and they are finally transferred to your Beneficiaries. There is a common misconception that Trusts are only for the ultra-wealthy, but they have many benefits for different types of situations, including avoiding the dreaded probate process. Overall, estate planning can be a complex process, but getting the help you need can help to make it much easier.

Do you have any other questions for your financial advisor? For further information on how to get your estate planning, retirement, insurance, and 401(k) concerns addressed, see the guides from our series– Questions to Ask a Financial Advisor About: 

Hopefully, this article has been helpful in understanding what to bring to your first financial advising meeting. Remember, being prepared with questions, documents, and a clear understanding of your goals can help to make sure that you get the most out of your meeting. And when it comes to creating or updating your own Estate Plan, Trust & Will is here to help! You can create a fully customizable, state-specific Estate Plan from the comfort of your own home in just 20 minutes. Take our free quiz to see where you should get started, or compare our different estate planning options today!

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