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Estate planning for clients: 3 ways advisors may do it better

Rafael is the CEO and co-founder of Wealth.com, an estate planning technology firm.

Financial consultants are ideally situated to assist their customers in getting over the frequently difficult obstacle of estate planning. In fact, the research on the state of estate planning in 2022 states that getting assistance from a financial advisor is the main motivator for making an estate plan.

Despite this, a survey indicated that 67% of Americans lack an estate plan, and many people aren’t considering talking to their advisor about it as regularly as other, more pressing financial matters: “Should I be considering creating a will or a trust?” the question of “should I diversify my banking methods to ensure that my deposits are fully FDIC insured?” swiftly takes the back seat. or “What do you think about the recent volatility in the market?”

Although customers may not be actively seeking assistance on estate planning, that does not mean they do not anticipate it. 93% of clients expect guidance on estate planning from their financial advisor, but only 22% say they really get it, according to Spectrem Group study.

There is too much of a gap here to overlook. Advisors should not put off discussing estate planning with their clients. Holistic financial planning, which involves making specific plans for post-life legacy, is considerably more advantageous for both the adviser and the client.

Estate planning is the most popular item that financial planners intend to introduce, according to research from SmartAsset. More than 60% of advisers who want to grow their business want to include estate planning. Many advisers intend to start providing estate planning to their customers, but they still encounter obstacles:

Clients often have pre-existing plans and are unaware of the necessity of routinely revising those plans, which can lead to unanticipated and occasionally devastating results.
Referring a client to an attorney can be difficult and unrelated to the rest of the client’s financial strategy.

Even though they are aware that having an end-of-life plan would benefit them, clients generally avoid discussing end-of-life plans because they find thinking about death to be unsettling.

The three suggestions that follow can help advisors more effectively get their customers’ estate planning in order:

1. Transition to legacy planning from current aims.

Financial goals are typically better understood by advisors than by their clients. Discussing post-life legacy naturally without focusing on the somber subjects of incapacity and death can be accomplished by delving further into the philosophical reasons behind your client’s current financial goals—what drives them to retain your services.

Consider, for instance, that one of your client’s primary objectives is to retire early in order to spend more time supporting two charities that are particularly important to them. It provides an opportunity to inquire about whether they have any plans to donate money to a charitable organization by taking the time to ask them why they are so passionate about volunteering.

2. Look at useful technology.

customers want their advisors to introduce them to estate planning solutions and continue to be the point person for the overall planning for their financial well-being even if the majority of advisors don’t have the time to become trust and estate lawyers and cannot practice law on behalf of their customers.

Online educational tools are accessible to advisors, allowing them to talk with more authority to their customers about the estate planning procedure.

Fintech solutions are also available that directly assist with estate planning, avoiding the need to refer users to lawyers.

When analyzing these possibilities, be thorough. Many solutions, which may not have been created by lawyers with expertise in trusts and estates or tax laws and may use one-size-fits-all templates, make more legal claims than they actually are.

Consider how the estate planning technology fits in with your current business model and how simple the onboarding procedure is for clients. In the alternative, you risk paying for standalone software that neither you nor your clients actually use.

3. Use reason and logic.

The communication and decision-making preferences of clients differ. Individual personality traits and life experiences have a distinct role in what drives people to begin thinking seriously about estate planning. Some customers could be inspired by the idea of leaving a lasting legacy.

Others may be influenced by sentimental pleas to prevent family strife or safeguard the financial destiny of loved ones.

Other clients might be more firmly pragmatic; they might be solely interested with privatizing the estate administration process, ensuring that business as usual is maintained, or lowering taxes, probate, and attorneys’ costs.

A more well-liked strategy may be to speak with those clients directly about the potential repercussions of not having an updated estate plan, such as what happens when someone passes away without a will.

Estate planning discussions are a terrific approach to establish an advisor’s reputation as someone who is concerned with the big picture and goes above and beyond to make a meaningful connection.

The Missing Piece In Wealthtech May Just Be Humans, a recent Forbes article by Mike Sha, expressed it succinctly like way: “The present disruption in wealthtech is, and will continue to be, about human advisers developing a higher number of meaningful relationships.

The amount of time advisers can spend with clients and acquiring new ones could expand as a result of technological advancements in administrative activities.

Additionally, advisors might be more successful if they comprehend their client’s complete estate, which extends beyond the money they are compensated to handle. Assisting clients with estate taxes is one practical example.

For a married couple, the exemption level is now at $26 million, and any worth above that is subject to a 40% federal estate tax.

However, the exemption amount for estate taxes is scheduled to fall in 2026, so any advisor who doesn’t act wisely regarding estate planning for their clients may be performing a disservice to those whose estates exceed the exemption amount.

Advisors should concentrate on solutions that offer knowledge and suggestions about estate taxes in addition to the writing of legal documents when assessing the various estate planning choices for their clients.

No financial plan, advisor-client relationship, or estate plan is completely complete without it.

Financial, tax, or investment advice is not offered in this information. A qualified professional should be consulted for guidance regarding your particular circumstances.

Executives from reputable accounting, financial planning, and asset management organizations can join the Forbes Finance Council by invitation only. Is that me?

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