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Estate CPA vs Regular Accountant: Deciding the Best Fit for Your Business

As a business owner, deciding between an estate CPA and […]

Post Author:

Joel Lee


Date Posted:

August 24, 2023

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As a business owner, deciding between an estate CPA and a regular accountant is crucial for navigating your financial needs. Both professionals play essential roles in managing your finances, yet they offer distinct services and possess specific sets of skills. Understanding the key differences between them will help you determine the right fit for your business and its growth.

An estate CPA specializes in handling the financial aspects of real estate, estate planning, and taxation, with a strong focus on the unique needs of property owners. On the other hand, a regular accountant provides general accounting services, which may include bookkeeping, financial reporting, and tax preparation. Although both have their pros and cons, your decision should be based on your business’ specific requirements and the professional’s expertise in the relevant field.

Key Takeaways

  • The choice between an estate CPA and a regular accountant depends on your business’ specific needs and goals.
  • Estate CPAs specialize in real estate and estate planning, while regular accountants offer general accounting services.
  • Evaluate the skills and expertise of each professional to ensure they align with your business requirements before making your ultimate decision.

Understanding Estate CPA and Regular Accountant

Definition and Roles

An Estate CPA is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) who specializes in estate planning, administration, and tax-related matters. Their role includes creating and implementing estate plans, managing the financial aspects of estates, and filing relevant tax forms. Estate CPAs work closely with clients to ensure the efficient transfer of assets to their beneficiaries and reduce estate taxes.

A Regular Accountant is a financial professional who typically deals with a broader scope of accounting tasks, such as bookkeeping, financial analysis, and tax preparation for individuals and businesses. They may also help with financial planning, budgeting, and reporting. In general, a regular accountant’s role is to maintain accurate financial records and provide timely advice to clients.

Education and Training Requirements

To become an Estate CPA, you need to first become a Certified Public Accountant. This requires a bachelor’s degree in accounting or related field, completion of 150 semester hours of education, and passing the Uniform CPA Examination administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Additionally, you must meet your state’s specific experience and licensure requirements for CPA certification.

As an Estate CPA, you must also have specialized knowledge in estate planning and administration. This can be gained through further education, such as obtaining a relevant certification or attending industry-specific seminars and workshops.

On the other hand, a Regular Accountant generally needs at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Unlike CPAs, they do not require CPA certification. However, they may choose to pursue voluntary certifications, such as the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) credential, to enhance their skills and career prospects.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, both CPA and regular accountant positions typically require continuing education to stay current on changes in business practices, tax laws, and regulations.

In summary, when choosing between an Estate CPA and a Regular Accountant for your business, consider the specific accounting needs and requirements of your company. If your business involves complex estate planning and tax matters, an Estate CPA may be the right choice. However, if your needs are more general, a Regular Accountant should be able to provide the necessary support.

Core Services Offered

Accounting and Bookkeeping

Accounting and bookkeeping are essential for keeping your business financially healthy. Both estate CPA and regular accountants can deliver these core services. They’ll help you maintain accurate financial records, monitor cash flow, and ensure the timely payment of expenses. By organizing your financial data effectively, they assist in making informed decisions to grow and expand your business.

Tax Services

Tax services are a significant aspect of your business operations. A regular accountant can help you prepare and file your business’s tax returns as well as perform tax planning. Estate CPAs, on the other hand, are invaluable when dealing with complex tax issues such as inheritance tax returns, estate taxes, and trust management. They can provide expert guidance to minimize your tax liabilities while adhering to your legal compliance.

Audit and Assurance

Audits and reviews come into play for businesses and high-net-worth individuals alike. While accountants can conduct internal company audits, only a CPA can perform an external audit or audit public companies. Moreover, a CPA can represent you before the IRS if your tax return is audited, ensuring that you have a competent and knowledgeable professional by your side.

Consulting and Advisory

Confident and experienced professionals like estate CPAs and regular accountants can provide consulting and advisory services tailored to your business’s needs. They can advise on strategies for growth, suggest cost-saving measures, and offer insights into the financial health of your company. Additionally, estate CPAs can help beneficiaries navigate the inheritance process and provide answers to questions related to outstanding tax returns.

In conclusion, the right choice between an estate CPA and a regular accountant depends on your specific requirements and the complexity of your financial situation. Carefully analyze the services offered and the expertise of the professionals to make an informed decision.

Real Estate and Estate CPA Services

When it comes to managing your business’s finances, choosing the right professional is crucial. In this section, we’ll examine the services provided by Estate CPAs and how they differ from those of a regular accountant, focusing on real estate investing and estate planning.

Real Estate Investing and Financial Analysis

An Estate CPA with expertise in real estate can help you navigate the unique financial aspects of investing in property. They can provide valuable insights, such as tax strategies to minimize or eliminate tax liability. Estate CPAs specializing in real estate understand the complexities of property investments and are knowledgeable about depreciation, 1031 exchanges, and other related tax mechanisms.

On the other hand, a regular accountant might not have the same depth of experience with real estate investments. They may be able to assist with general financial planning and tax returns but could lack the specific expertise needed to optimize your property investments.

Estate Planning and Trust Administration

An Estate CPA often takes on a fiduciary responsibility to help you manage your estate and administer any trusts you establish. This includes tasks like:

  • Tax planning for your estate, including estate and gift taxes
  • Assistance with trust administration and accounting
  • Guidance on establishing and maintaining trusts

These professionals have a deep understanding of trust law, estate taxes, and estate accounting, ensuring your assets are well-managed and future tax burdens are minimized.

In contrast, a regular accountant may offer assistance in tax planning and financial analysis but might not be as well-versed in estate-specific tax laws and strategies. They may also lack the necessary licensing and certifications to act as a fiduciary and manage your estate with the same level of expertise as an Estate CPA.

When it comes to your business and your investments, selecting the right professional is essential. If your focus is primarily on real estate and estate planning, an Estate CPA can provide the specialized services and knowledgeable guidance you need to succeed.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Professional

Size and Complexity of Your Business

When deciding between an estate CPA and a regular accountant, first, consider the size and complexity of your business. If you run a small business with simple finances, a regular accountant may be able to efficiently handle your needs. On the other hand, if your business involves complex financial transactions, real estate investments, or multiple entities, an estate CPA with a deep understanding of industry-specific regulations could be a better fit.

Industry-specific Expertise

Check the expertise of the professional in your specific industry. A CPA with real estate experience may have a deeper understanding of the tax implications, legal structures, and financial planning strategies specific to the real estate sector. This expertise can greatly benefit your business, especially if you have investments in real estate or plan to expand your portfolio in the future. On the other hand, if your business operates in a different industry, a regular accountant with knowledge of your sector might be more appropriate.

Budget Constraints

Budget is always a crucial factor to consider when hiring any professional. Typically, CPAs have a higher fee structure compared to regular accountants, due to their advanced training and designation. While selecting the right professional for your business, evaluate the value they bring to your organization versus the cost. It is essential to strike a balance between their expertise and your budget.

Long-term Business Goals

Finally, consider your long-term business goals when choosing between an estate CPA and a regular accountant. If you have ambitious plans for your business, including expansion and diversification, an estate CPA can provide strategic advice and financial planning to help you achieve those goals. On the other hand, if your needs are limited to basic financial management, a regular accountant might suffice.

By carefully considering the size and complexity of your business, industry-specific expertise, budget constraints, and long-term business goals, you can make an informed decision about whether an estate CPA or a regular accountant is the best choice for your business. Remember that clear communication and aligning your financial professional with your business objectives are crucial for success.

Evaluating Skills and Expertise

When deciding between an Estate CPA and a regular accountant for your business, it’s essential to consider their skills and expertise. In this section, we’ll explore the three main areas to focus on: Technical Competence, Ethical Standards, and Communication and Collaboration Skills.

Technical Competence

Estate CPAs possess advanced training in handling complex financial affairs that involve estate planning, trusts, and tax-related matters. They are Certified Public Accountants, which means they have met the education, examination, and licensure requirements in their respective states. In contrast, regular accountants may have a bachelor’s degree in finance or accounting, but they are not necessarily licensed to provide the same level of service.

Your business may benefit from the specialized knowledge of an Estate CPA if you deal with complex estate planning or require a deeper understanding of tax regulations related to inheritance and trusts.

Ethical Standards

Both Estate CPAs and regular accountants are expected to adhere to strict ethical standards. CPAs, in particular, must follow a Code of Ethics, which requires them to act with integrity, objectivity, and professionalism. While regular accountants may not be bound by the same code, they are still expected to maintain high ethical standards when managing your financial affairs.

To ensure that your business’s finances are handled responsibly, choose a professional with a demonstrated commitment to ethical conduct and a solid reputation in the industry.

Communication and Collaboration Skills

Effective communication and collaboration are vital for both Estate CPAs and regular accountants as they work closely with clients to manage their financial affairs. Good communication skills ensure that technical information is presented clearly and concisely, while collaboration is necessary when dealing with different aspects of your business, such as taxes, accounting, and investments.

As you assess potential candidates for your business, ask yourself whether they can effectively explain complex financial and tax concepts, listen to your concerns, and adapt their approach based on your specific needs. Remember, your goal is to find a professional who can seamlessly integrate with your team and provide valuable insights into your financial management.

The Ultimate Decision: Estate CPA vs. Regular Accountant

Making an Informed Choice

As a savvy business owner, you should weigh the pros and cons of hiring an estate CPA versus a regular accountant. An estate CPA is a financial professional who has passed the CPA exam, has accounting experience, and is knowledgeable about tax laws and regulations. On the other hand, a regular accountant, though skilled in basic accounting tasks, does not carry the same level of certification or expertise.

To make an informed decision, consider the specific needs of your business. If it requires high-level tax planning, financial reporting, or auditing services, an estate CPA may be the better choice. They can represent your business during audits, prepare complex tax returns, and provide authoritative financial advice.

However, if your business primarily needs bookkeeping, payroll, or simpler tax services, a regular accountant could be sufficient. They can competently handle these day-to-day tasks, often at a lower cost.

Maximizing Benefits for Your Business

Both estate CPAs and regular accountants can contribute to your business’s financial well-being, but the key is knowing when to use each professional’s expertise.

  • For basic accounting and bookkeeping: A regular accountant can effectively manage tasks like accounts receivable, accounts payable, and payroll. They’ll help you keep track of daily financial transactions and ensure your records are accurate and up-to-date.
  • For tax planning and compliance: An estate CPA is knowledgeable about tax laws and can provide expert guidance on minimizing your tax liability and staying compliant with regulations. Their experience and higher qualifications allow them to prepare complex tax returns, identify potential deductions, and advise on optimal tax strategies.
  • For financial reporting and analysis: Estate CPAs are qualified to prepare and analyze financial statements, evaluate business performance, and provide insights to help you make informed decisions. Their clear and neutral advice can be invaluable when planning for future growth or dealing with financial challenges.

In summary, your choice between an estate CPA and a regular accountant depends on the unique needs of your business. Understand their respective skills and qualifications to confidently make the right decision and maximize benefits for your company.


When it comes to deciding between an estate CPA and a regular accountant for your business, consider the specific services and expertise your business requires. An estate CPA is more specialized and has obtained additional certification and education for handling estate and trust matters. That being said, your final decision should be based on your unique business needs.

Regular accountants can manage a wide range of financial tasks, including bookkeeping, financial statement preparation, and tax filing. They can be a great choice for small to medium-sized businesses with straightforward accounting needs. If you find that your business is growing and requires more extensive financial management, an estate CPA may be a more suitable choice.

Estate CPAs are highly trained in areas concerning estates and trusts, and they have passed the Uniform CPA Examination. This enables them to handle more complex financial tasks, such as estate planning, managing trusts, and working with high net worth individuals. If your business deals with such complexities, having an estate CPA on board can provide added value and ensure your business remains compliant with tax laws and regulations.

Remember that it’s crucial to evaluate your business’s financial needs and complexities before making a decision. You may also want to consult with professionals in your industry or seek recommendations from other business owners to ensure you’re making the best choice for your circumstances. Ultimately, the right accountant will be the one that best meets your business’s specific financial needs and challenges.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main differences between a CPA and a regular accountant?

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a professional who has passed rigorous exams and met specific state licensure requirements. A regular accountant, on the other hand, may not hold the CPA designation, and their education, experience, and scope of work may be more limited. The key differences between the two are the CPA’s ability to represent taxpayers in audits and conduct external company audits, particularly for public companies source.

How does a CPA’s expertise in real estate benefit my business?

A CPA with expertise in real estate can provide specialized tax advice, help you maximize deductions, and navigate complex real estate transactions. Their experience in the industry ensures they understand the unique aspects of your business, allowing them to provide tailored financial guidance and tax strategies source.

What factors should I consider when choosing between a CPA and an accountant?

When deciding between a CPA and an accountant, consider factors such as the complexity of your business, tax preparation needs, financial statement requirements, and the potential for audits. If your business involves complex real estate transactions, has significant tax liability, or may require representation in audits, a CPA could be a better choice source.

How do the services of an accountant, bookkeeper, and CPA vary?

A bookkeeper typically handles day-to-day financial tasks, such as recording transactions and managing accounts payable and receivable. An accountant provides a higher level of expertise and can create financial statements, manage budgets, and prepare tax returns. A CPA offers the highest level of expertise, covering tasks that accountants can do, plus audit representation, public company auditing, and specialized tax consulting source.

Is a specialized real estate CPA necessary for tax preparation?

While it’s not strictly necessary to have a real estate CPA for tax preparation, their specialized knowledge can be valuable. Real estate businesses can benefit from these experts when it comes to maximizing deductions and navigating complex tax laws related to property transactions source.

How can a CPA or accountant help with starting a business?

Both CPAs and accountants can help you set up your business, from choosing the right legal structure to creating financial projections and budgets. They can also assist with tax registration, payroll setup, and ongoing tax compliance, ensuring your company is on solid financial footing from the start source.

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