If you are not facilitating your client’s Estate Planning, who is? You are uniquely positioned to help clients prepare a thorough Estate Planning Briefing Document for the lawyer.
Estate planning has always been the Cinderella of financial planning advice as it is rarely invited to the annual client review party apart from some standard questions and a referral to a solicitor.
Estate planning is valuable to your clients and it is valuable to you. Offering estate planning advice brings advisers closer to their clients and their broader family and can be what sets you apart from the rest of the industry. It is a great way to get your clients re-engaged in your business. All you need is the right tool to do it professionally and efficiently.
According to the NSW Trustee and Guardian over 45% of Australians don’t have a valid will. This is not surprising as most of our clients see estate planning as not all that urgent and it all seems far too difficult and expensive.
Most advisers also see estate planning as too difficult and can’t see how they can realistically add value and consider their obligation completed if they refer the client to a solicitor and provide a copy of the client fact find.
What advisers don’t realise is just how much value they can add to the estate planning process and how much the client will appreciate their efforts.
Much of the time (and costs) associated in the estate planning process involves the solicitor getting to know their client and understanding what they want to achieve. There is no legal advice provided in this process, it is simply a fact-finding procedure and, in most cases the financial planner knows most of the answers and can determine the rest with a series of questions.
The benefit to the client is that they are dealing with a person they know well and trust and feel comfortable discussing what can sometimes be quite confronting issues.
Technology now provides a solution that makes this exercise both straightforward for the adviser and an enjoyable and educational experience for the client.
Astute Estate Planner is an estate planning software that allows the adviser to take their client through a step-by-step process capturing all the relevant information and asking all the appropriate questions. There is no advice provided however the planner is seen as the trusted person facilitating the process with their knowledge of the client and what’s required to brief a solicitor.
The software provides an interactive and visual estate planning experience for the client with family tree diagrams to identify all the relevant family members and entity diagrams to show where the ownership and control of various assets are held.
Once all the decisions are made regarding executors, powers of attorney, guardians for children, specific bequests and how the assets are to be distributed a visual is produced to show how the assets will be distributed if either client or both have passed away.
The software provides for both simple and complex client scenarios catering for blended families and also those that have multiple companies, trusts and a self-managed super fund. A discussion around testamentary trusts is also catered for.
As the software is visual, these discussions can easily be conducted in virtual meeting through screen sharing if the client wishes.
Client action plan
Finally, a briefing document is generated capturing the client’s circumstances and their estate planning requirements. This can then be forwarded to a solicitor to become the basis for their instruction and is where the legal advice is provided by the solicitor.
Alternatively, the information can be forwarded to one of the online solicitor partners where the legal advice is provided via a webinar that can involve the planner if the client wishes. So, the entire process can be done virtually if the client desires it to be.
Virtual Client Meetings