They say it takes two to Tango. It certainly does. Have you ever tried to Tango with yourself? You’d look pretty ridiculous, wouldn’t you? And so it goes with estate planning. Many people mistakenly think that they need only a lawyer, and they certainly do need a lawyer. But any complex estate will have tax implications, and lawyers don’t know tax. Accountants do. As a top CPA firm in San Francisco, we help many of our high income clients work on their estate planning. Many have significant assets such as property here in the beautiful Bay Area as well as business interests. They want to pass assets down to their children, friends and family, and often also to charities. But they don’t want to give extra money to Uncle Sam. He doesn’t need it!
The Estate Planning Process
Lawyers are a very important person in the estate planning process. You need a good lawyer, someone who understands the law. Obviously most of us want to do estate planning to avoid probate. So yes, yes, yes, please find a San Francisco estate planning lawyer (if you don’t know any, call us and we can recommend a few). But you also need a great CPA firm, with accountants who “know tax” and “know” the estate taxation system at both the Federal and state (California) level. Moreover, here in the cosmopolitan San Francisco Bay Area, you may need someone who understands international tax issues. You might, for example, own property in China, Germany, or Canada. You’d need to bring in expertise on international tax, and on international estate planning.
A Good Lawyer and a Good Accountant for Estate Planning
So, in summary, you need a good lawyer and you need a good accountant. You’re smart (we know you’re smart). Why? Because you’re reading this blog post. You’re thinking about your estate. You’re planning ahead. Good, smart people realize that they need to hire good, smart people. And good, smart people realize that lawyers know the law, and accountants know the tax system. So you need both.
It takes two to Tango. And it takes more than two to really do a good estate planning to avoid tax, comply with the law, and make sure that your estate can help your heirs into the future.