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Avoid Assumptions—Especially About Family Members’ Roles

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In modern families, the decision makers may not be who you assume they are. “If you’re not treating everyone who walks into your office with full attention and respect, then you’re not doing it right,” said Carolyn McClanahan, director of financial planning at Life Planning Partners.

As part of the onboarding process, she suggested, “You need to get clear about the division of responsibility up front and make sure you are comfortable with it. One of the questions we ask is: Who deals with the investment decisions? Who pays the bills? They’ve negotiated these roles before they come to you—that goes for traditional couples, LGBT couples, unmarried and living-together heterosexuals. If you assume that every family functions like a traditional couple, you will turn off many potentially good clients.”

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