No estate-planning attorney works alone. Financial advisors are an irreplaceable resource that goes far beyond referrals. I rely on my clients’ financial advisors to provide accurate information regarding the tangible assets within an estate, but I also look to them to help me sift through and make sense of all that is less than tangible. It’s a team approach where financial advisors are invaluable to my process. And like any team, there are strategies that can help us work together more effectively. These strategies can also help financial advisors benefit from the estate planning process as a whole. Here are my top 5 tips for success:
1.) Join the team
There is no “I” in team. And there isn’t one in estate planning either. Becoming an invaluable member of a team, proactively taking part in a client’s estate planning process can provide the edge that prevents you from being seen as just another commodity service.
2.) Do your homework
In the estate planning process, clients will disclose all of their assets to their attorney, including those a financial consultant may not have known. Staying on top of this new information can uncover all sorts of new opportunities, including increasing assets under management, and meeting additional insurance needs.
3.) Take charge
Only with an active approach can you realistically plan for the “what ifs.” Nobody likes to plan for things like a disability or the death of a spouse or beneficiary, but it does happen. That’s why it’s imperative to identify and implement the appropriate financial and legal tools. When they are in place you can help minimize liquidity traps, unforeseen expenses, probate and even long-term care expenses for whatever “what if” comes up.
4.) Focus on relationships
By focusing on people and relationships over transactions, you are providing invaluable big picture thinking. You are also far more likely to retain business in the unfortunate event of a client’s passing. This likelihood increases exponentially if you’re actively involved in setting up an estate plan that includes trusts and planning that continues for future generation, thus allowing you the opportunity to work with your clients’ children.
5.) Be an agent of trust
Here I’m talking about two kinds of trust: 1. living trusts and 2. emotional trust. By being a proponent of the former, you can help investment accounts avoid probate, ensuring that heirs do not have their assets tied up in lengthy court proceedings. With an approach that takes clients’ personal and family concerns into account, you will be well on your way to becoming a trusted advisor. And that you can’t put a price on.
Thoughtful planning doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Today’s financial advisors have to pursue every effort to build the client relationship and to maintain client loyalty. Being a catalyst for your clients’ estate planning is not only rewarding, but also it’s the right thing to do.
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