When I’m at a social event and the conversation turns toward “What do you do for a living?” people often react with surprise when I tell them I work at Truepoint: “What does an estate planning attorney like you do at a financial firm all day?” The question always makes me chuckle, but I understand where it’s coming from. After all, most people think wealth management mostly entails picking investments.
But Truepoint is a unique firm, so we have a unique structure. We believe that wealth management is about more than just managing portfolios. We see it as a holistic approach that helps people achieve their long-term goals. So we strive to understand each client’s unique set of values, needs, and aspirations, and then build a comprehensive plan to help them achieve a more fulfilling and richer life.
I’m grateful that Truepoint sees estate planning as an integral part of this process. Too often, estate planning is thought of as simply deciding where your money will go when you die. Instead, we ask clients, “What do you want your legacy to be? How do you want your wealth to make a difference for generations to come?”
Our commitment to comprehensive wealth management sets our firm apart and drives the three most distinctive aspects of our estate planning process:
1. A collaborating team of experts for every client
To offer such comprehensive services, Truepoint has built a company composed of experts who work together seamlessly for the benefit of every client. We hire seasoned professionals with substantial technical training, as well as real-world experience, in their specific domain.
More than a decade ago, Truepoint began building our dedicated estate planning team by hiring Tom Bentley, who holds both the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA) designations. A few years later, I joined the team, bringing my experience as an attorney who specializes in estate planning, trust administration, and probate. More recently, Shelly Bailey, CFP and CTFA, came on board, bringing her considerable expertise in the structure and execution of trusts. This depth of knowledge within a wealth management firm is unusual, but it reflects Truepoint’s commitment to creating comprehensive plans, tailored to each client’s unique situation.
This combination of technical training and practical experience extends across Truepoint. For example, our tax group has two professionals responsible for trust tax reporting—one an attorney and the other a CPA. This enables us to craft plans that use appropriate estate planning strategies and that work well from a tax perspective, too. What’s more, all of our teams sit near one another—on the same floor of our office—putting all of this knowledge within just a few steps of my desk.
Each Truepoint team contributes to every client’s financial plan and provides updates for annual client meetings, as well. In addition, we hold more frequent, informal “huddles” that help us keep up to date with clients’ circumstances. When important events occur, the entire client team can pivot together.
2. A dynamic process focused on goals, not documents
At Truepoint, estate planning is not driven by a checklist of documents to be filed. Instead, our three-step process is designed to help us get to know the client and develop a plan that will achieve their specific goals.
- Phase One: Review and revise the current plan First, our team reviews every document of the client’s current estate plan and generates an Estate Plan Summary—a “plain language” review of all of the critical components already in place. We also create an Asset Flow Chart, which details how each asset will pass through to various entities and individuals. Our team then reviews these documents with each client, and we recommend specific estate planning strategies, based on current laws and the client’s goals. We then work with the client’s attorney to revise or create appropriate legal documents.
- Phase Two: Identify beneficiaries Once the estate planning documents are executed, we then ensure that beneficiaries are designated and that assets are titled in a way that is consistent with the estate plan. To make this as simple as possible, we will file most of the requisite paperwork on the client’s behalf, if desired.
- Phase Three: Ongoing relationship We meet with clients at least once every two years to review their estate plan. We believe an estate plan should be dynamic; it should change as a client’s situation changes. Our regular “touch points” help us build trust and familiarity with clients. As a result, they frequently call us to consult about changes they are considering.
3. Advocating for our client’s best interests
At Truepoint, our fiduciary responsibility relates to more than just our investment decisions; it extends to every part of our business, including our estate team. In practice, this means crafting an estate plan that we believe will deliver the best possible outcomes for the client. It also means working well with a client’s other intermediaries to make sure that every part of the plan is properly aligned and coordinated.
Our team’s legal background, financial knowledge, and practical experience enable us to communicate well with our clients’ attorneys. We often work directly with these lawyers—saving our clients’ time and making the estate planning process more efficient.
Because we work side-by-side—literally—with the financial planning and tax preparation teams, we can give these attorneys important context for their client’s estate planning decisions. This in turn can help build a more fulfilling relationship between the clients and their attorneys. Simply put, we view a client’s attorney as a fellow partner, committed to creating the best estate plan for our mutual client.
Your estate plan is more than a collection of legal documents. It is a blueprint for your future. We help you create a plan that works for you, for your family, and for the future. Accumulating wealth is just one part of your financial journey; fulfilling your dreams is the culmination of that journey. At Truepoint, we not only recognize that; we’ve built our business around it.