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Football season has me thinking of estate coaching. He’s a re-run of an old favorite, first published last spring.

Lesson Two: Assemble Your Advisory Team

Many families—my own, included—have felt the weight of making important decisions about estate property at a time when they are grappling with stress, grief and extreme time pressures.  Whether planning for your own future or helping to settle a family member’s estate, it’s worth the time and effort to identify a team of trustworthy advisors who will help you make informed decisions.

So get to know the professionals who can support and advise you.  You don’t have to engage in long consultations with them yet, but it’s a good idea to identify who they are and have at least a preliminary conversation to help identify any important issues early in the process. Your advisory team may include an estate attorney, insurance agent, accountant, financial advisor, appraiser, auctioneer or estate liquidator, realtor, even a cleaning service and mover.

Not long ago, I appraised an estate for a family who were dismayed to discover that they would be paying costly estate taxes on their parents’ lifetime accumulation of household goods.  In the midst of their grief over losing both parents within a few months, these lovely people also had to locate a tax attorney, an estate attorney, a moving company, an insurance agent, an accountant and a qualified appraiser in a short space of time.  They had to determine how much the property was worth and make a thousand small decisions about what to do with it.

Lining up your ‘special teams’ early can save you—or your heirs—a great deal of heartache and expense.