Are you ready for a client’s premature death?

[ January 23, 2013 ]

The key to estate planning with clients lies more in being a good listener and thinker, than a technical guru

Which one of your clients will not die?

So why aren’t you advising on estate planning? Estate planning and financial planners are a natural fit. The primacy theory requires you to become your client’s primary adviser, and one great way to get there is to guide your clients through the estate planning process to make ensure all is in order if they die prematurely.

Life insurance plays a part here: it’s the “instant estate”, and the sum insured is partly determined by how much wealth your client does not otherwise have. Your knowledge of your client’s financial profile, life story, and world view play a part too.

Estate planning is usually not that hard. Most clients’ needs are not complex, and the key lies more in being a good listener, and thinker, than a technical guru. You need your clients to open up, to let you know their most personal thoughts, and to trust you with all aspects of their financial planning including financial planning for death.

You need a sound relationship with a solicitor who will work with you on the documents and not compete to advise your client. Fees are important. If a solicitor wants $1,500 plus GST for a will creating a testamentary trust, then there is not much left for you. You need a solicitor with better prices. This solicitor will see you as the client, want a continuing relationship with you and charge a fee that leaves most of the profit with you, the primary adviser.

Dover advisers are charged $375 for a will creating a testamentary trust. This seems to be about the right price, and is acceptable to most clients.

Like most things, you need to know what you do not know, and when to refer your client to someone who does know. Never be afraid to refer a complex matter to someone who knows more about it than you do. Clients see it as a sign of competence and confidence, not a cop out. A referral shows you place their interests ahead of your own, which means they will trust you more than ever.

Some signals are second marriages, same sex relationships, disabled children, divorce or bankrupt prone children, complex business or investment arrangements, unusually large amounts of wealth, SMSFs, trusts or companies, or imminent death.

Business clients need business succession planning, or estate planning on steroids. Succession planning is more than buy/sell insurance arrangements. It needs a competent and trusted business adviser able to take the client through a complex process involving competing claims and competing agendas. You need skill, commonsense and diplomacy to take a client through a process like this and stay friends afterwards, and many financial planners thrive on the challenge.

Estate planning lends itself to fee for service payment arrangements, and is a beautiful fit for financial planners wanting to move from commission sales to a real adviser’s practice. You can learn more about estate planning for financial planners by downloading The Financial Planner as an Estate Planner from the Dover website.

And if you are not advising your clients on estate planning, who is?

The Dover Group