A guide to a healthy and effective Estate planning conversation
Deciding what should be done with our Estate after we are gone is never easy. The topic is tough and the stats prove that most of us tend to avoid discussing or planning for it. However, if you are a Financial Advisor you need to address the subject with your clients. It’s a fundamental part of a complete financial plan and dealing with it earlier can prevent a mess later.
The first, and often hardest part of the process, is starting the conversation. As we said above, our first instinct is to try to keep away from talking about what will happen after we are gone, so if your client has any discomfort with the topic it is understandable. An effective way to overcome this is by sharing your own personal struggles with planning for the future,
while highlighting that it is a necessary step to properly protect loved ones and your legacy. A useful piece of evidence that supports the importance of planning can be found in a recent Canadian study – in only 30% of all wealth transfers there is family harmony post-transfer to heirs.
Once this initial resistance from your client is dealt with and you have an open channel to talk about all aspects of Estate planning, it is time to organize the documents and information that needs to be gathered. We have created a template list to assist you during this step that you can download by clicking here. Your client needs to understand that the effort placed behind the plan will save their loved ones hours of stress and thousands of dollars later on.
As the necessary documents and information are collected, it is crucial that their physical versions are stored safely, but it is not enough. Digital platforms like ReadyWhen should be used to ensure that this vital data is also secured online, and that family, friends, Executors and Professionals can easily access it. This step of the process usually takes a while, so it is important to start as early as possible. Even if your client doesn’t have a house or millions in the bank, he or she can start with simple things such as a list of social media profiles or medical information.
Assuming that at this point you were able to establish a solid and honest relationship with your client and that they have at least a draft of their Estate plan, it might be time to reach out to the children. Since all families have different dynamics there is no formula. In some cases it will be more effective to discuss the plan in a group, in others it might be better to talk to each child separately. Regardless of the selected strategy, bringing the children to the discussion is fundamental. If you don’t believe it, there is data to prove it.
Including children in their parents Estate planning conversations is a good way to expand the relationship with your client to the whole family. Sharing resources to help educate the descendents about investments and wealth management is also an effective trust building strategy.
To make sure that your clients have full support you might need to assist them in finding other experts, including tax planners and lawyers. Finally, you can centralize the communication between all the team members and safely manage every step of the process
online by opening a ReadyWhen account.