“Who can help me plan for my financial future?” is the question of the week. Building a home-buying team will help you buy the right house, whether you’re a first-time buyer or trading up into a larger home.  Building your financial future requires more.

Q: Who can help me plan for my financial future, including buying a house? I’m hoping you can help me find a tax attorney in Los Angeles who can provide guidance to my fiancé and me. We are both about to graduate from our residencies as doctors, and will then get married, start our careers, and buy a house – which is a substantial purchase in Los Angeles.

We want to start off on the right foot in terms of planning, so we wanted to meet with a tax attorney first and discuss investments, inheritance, insurance, etc., and then build a team to help us buy a house. Can you recommend someone in Los Angeles who we could pay by the hour and who would just have our best interests in mind in terms of giving us advice? Thank you!

Planning for your financial future

A: Thanks for your email. And, congratulations on all of the things you and your partner have already accomplished. It’s no small feat to get through medical school (likely with some amount of debt), start your careers and get married all at the same time. And, now you want to buy a home, which you rightly point out will be a significant cost in Los Angeles (the median sales price recently topped $1 million, according to Redfin). You also want to plan for your financial future.

Planning for your financial future and buying a home are two related items, but they require a separate team of people. 

Build your home buying and financial planning team

Given that you both have significant earning potential, getting a financial team in place is helpful. But a tax attorney isn’t going to be the right person to advise you on your home purchase – unless you’re planning to do something special with it. What you might need is an estate attorney, who can advise you on legal issues relating to your work as medical practitioners and whether you might need to protect your assets from liability down the road.

What we’d suggest for you is building a team of professionals who can help advise you as you, your businesses, and your family grow. One team would help you buy a home or any commercial or investment real estate. Another team would focus on your investment assets and long-term asset growth.

Who is the best person to talk to about buying a house?

There are five separate home buying professionals you’ll want to talk to about buying your home:
  1. Mortgage loan officer. A mortgage loan officer will help you figure out how much you can qualify to spend on your home. You can use a mortgage broker or a mortgage banker, visit with a local credit union 
  2. Real estate agent or broker. A real estate agent can assist you with shopping around for a home. The best agents help you figure out what you really want to buy. Real estate agents typically work for a real estate broker. A a broker might also help you buy or sell a home.
  3. Professional home inspector. You’ll want to make sure the home you buy is in acceptable condition. Attaching a home inspection rider to your contract means you’ll be able to bring in a professional home inspector to inspect the property. If you’re buying a new home, you’ll want to have the right to have your professional home inspector inspect the property at critical junctures to make sure the building is going according to plan.
  4. Real estate attorney. Hiring a real estate attorney for the purchase of a home is location-specific. In some locations, typically the Northwest and upper Midwest, you’ll hire a real estate attorney to help you close on your house. But if you’re buying a commercial or investment property, that purchase is more complicated and you’ll want to have a real estate attorney help you out.
  5. Tax advisor. If you’re buying a home that will also have an investment component (like a rental unit in the back or above the garage), it will be helpful to have the person who prepares your taxes help you understand how the purchase and ongoing revenue stream will affect your tax return. Find a good certified public accountant (CPA) or enrolled agent (EA) who can help manage federal and state income taxes. 

Assets growing? Plan for your financial future

As your assets begin to grow, you’ll want to talk with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA). These professionals can work with you to design a plan that will protect you. It will also give you a high chance of achieving your longer-term goals, including retirement. You will also likely need an insurance agent. Your CFP or RIA can probably recommend a few people with whom they work closely. You should also consult with an estate attorney (who can help guide you on inheritances as well as trusts) and an accountant.

Should you decide to strike out on your own and build your own practices, you’ll need additional professional advice. Consider seeing advice from attorneys with different types of expertise. You might also need insurance practitioners and business managers. Finally, you might need technologists, who can keep the back office running smoothly.

Tax attorneys can help with financial planning complexities

At some point, you may need additional guidance from a tax attorney. This person can guide you through high-level planning, including the deductions, credits and exemptions available to those with an auspicious level of assets. They’ll also be able to help if you get into a tax dispute with the IRS. They handle tax litigation and can be helpful in international tax planning. Some have accounting and legal degrees.

Doing financial planning is a smart move

Doing some financial planning is a smart move. And, you’ll need some tax planning advice to be sure. It’s an important piece of the puzzle, especially as you build your careers and accumulate assets.. There are various professionals you’ll want to engage as part of your financial planning.

Let us explain. A tax attorney can help you plan for any tax ramifications of investments you make. But, a good financial planner will help you see the outlines of your financial lives. They’ll help you set short-term and long-term financial goals. And, they’ll guide your savings and investments so you’ll get on the road to homeownership.

As your lives get more complicated, there will be experts who can step up and help. But for now, as you’re just beginning, focus on pulling together your home buying team. Good luck.

Read more about how to plan for your financial life:

When should I see a financial planner

Financial Planning: Save money but spend a little

Avoid Probate with a Living Trust