How do you know if you could benefit from the services of a financial planner? You may not have the expertise, the time or the desire to actively plan and manage certain financial aspects of your life. You may want help getting started. You may benefit from an objective, third-party perspective on what are often emotional, difficult decisions. And in today's hectic world, it can be beneficial to have a financial planning expert help to make sure you stay focused and follow through with your financial plans.

Often a specific event or need will trigger the desire for professional financial planning guidance. These might include:

  • Making sure your money will last during retirement or rolling over a retirement plan
  • Handling the inheritance of a large sum of money or other unexpected financial windfall
  • Preparing for a marriage or divorce
  • Planning for the birth or adoption of a child
  • Facing a financial crisis such as a serious illness, layoff or natural disaster
  • Caring for aging parents or a disabled child
  • Coping financially with the death of a spouse or close family member
  • Funding education
  • Buying, selling or passing on a family business

If you have the time and knowledge—and your financial situation is not too complicated—you may be able to do a lot of it on your own. However, there are some situations where you may find you need a financial planner, such as:

  • You have little or no experience with finances;
  • You don't have the inclination to do it;
  • You want an objective, outside perspective;
  • You have a complex financial situation; or—and this is usually the biggest obstacle for "do-it-yourselfers"—You don't have the time

What to Bring to a Meeting with a Planner
There are a number of documents you'll need once you engage a financial planner; a comprehensive list may be customized by your planner for your specific needs. Be prepared to answer questions regarding your age, current income, hobbies, goals, philosophy on money, groups you belong to, etc.

Recommended Documents:

Bank StatementsPension Benefit Statement and Booklet
Pay StubsInvestment Statements
Check RegistersListing of Available Investment Options in Investment and Retirement Accounts
Credit Card BalancesStock Options
Mortgage or Loan Payment BooksHomeowner and Automobile Declaration Pages
List of AssetsLife, Disability, or Long-Term Care Insurance Policies
List of LiabilitiesBusiness Liability, Director and Officer Insurance Policies
Completed Expense WorksheetTax Return
Wills, Trusts, Healthcare Powers of Attorney, Healthcare Proxy or Other Powers of AttorneyTax Estimate for Next Return (e.g., Deductions, Credits, etc.)
Business AgreementsList of Employee Benefits
Titles for Homes, Cars, Real Estate, ect.Retirement Account Statements
Social Security Statements