When Two Trusted Advisors Disagree | Sands Anderson PC
Occasionally, you may receive conflicting advice from two people – two people you trust, both knowledgeable in their field. How do you decide what to do?
In my experience, this kind of conflict usually arises when your advisors look at the problem from different angles. Take steps to bring the two people together to discuss the situation (as early in the process as possible!). I have found that by doing so, conflicting opinions are often resolved and the resulting course of action is improved.
For a concrete example, I am frequently called upon to prepare estate plans for clients with beneficiaries with special needs. I am blessed with a large family and have siblings with their own special needs, so this kind of planning comes very naturally to me.
I once went to great lengths to create a highly specialized trust for a client with very specific special needs issues in her family. A few days after we finalized the plan and I instructed the client on changing the title of the bank accounts, she called me practically in tears. An adviser with whom she had a close relationship said he was puzzled as to why she would set up a trust, when she could simply name beneficiaries on her bank accounts for free!
Naturally, the counselor was looking at the situation from a strict dollars and cents perspective. What’s the cheapest and fastest way to gift money to the next generation when you die? Sometimes a simple beneficiary designation is just the right tool for the job.
However, in this case, the use of a single beneficiary designation would have been disastrous. Upon the death of my client, a considerable sum of money would have passed directly into the possession of someone unable to manage it. As a result, the beneficiary would be cut off from any service and the specter of possible exploitation by guardians not chosen by my client would increase.
I arranged a phone call between the three of us, explained the reason for the plan to the counselor, and received his enthusiastic endorsement. I was looking at the situation from my perspective as a specialist in asset protection and estate planning; the advisor was reviewing the situation as a financial specialist.
Since this incident, I have made a conscious effort to involve my clients’ other advisors early in the process! What seemed like a very serious disagreement was simply a matter of perspective.
There are decisions where there are serious compromises on both sides and reasonable minds can disagree on how to fall. But often all it takes to resolve a dilemma is a conversation.
If you hear things that seem irreconcilable from people you trust, give them both the benefit of the doubt. Talk it over with them and you might end up with a better result than expected.