How to Demystify Estate Planning for the Average American

Mar 3, 2017 8:00:00 AM

Demystify Estate Planning for the Average AmericanMany Americans view estate planning as a tool — and topic — for the rich and famous. But even some of the wealthiest celebrities neglect to plan for their future. Take the estate of the late musician Prince, for example. The artist died with no known will, leaving the fate of his $100 million fortune up in the air. The legal ramifications are enough to make doves cry.

The outcome of Prince’s estate is still to be determined. For now, the estate’s special administrator is allowed to hire entertainment experts to maximize the value of his assets. This might sound like a wealthy celebrity problem, but the reality is that prolonged legal disputes around estates happen every day to average Americans. More than one-third (35%) of respondents to our recent estate planning survey said they’ve either personally experienced or know someone who has experienced family conflict as a result of not having a will or estate plan.

As an attorney, you can’t simply rely on the wealthiest members of your community to seek out your estate planning practice. The benefits of an estate plan to the average person are considerable. Guardianship for minor children and tax relief are just two of them. Estate plans also carry the benefits of tax and litigation avoidance for any heirs and offer invaluable peace of mind for the owner. You have enormous opportunity to diversify your client base and increase business by altering any misconception that middle-income individuals don’t require estate planning.

Our survey shows nearly half of Americans (46%) are interested in learning more about estate planning solutions. What if you could capture even a small portion of that group as clients? Here’s how you do it.

Clear up uncertainty

Americans are split over whether a will or trust is the most effective estate planning tool. 47% consider a trust to be the better option, while 53% believe that a will would best do the job. So, which is it? As an attorney, you must convey there are benefits to both wills and trusts. What’s right for one client might not be right for another. To you, the basics of each tool are simple but may be unclear for a client. Addressing wills, trusts and estates practice questions can go a long way toward demystifying estate planning.

Explain the benefits

Explaining the benefits can certainly pique the interest of those without plans in place. Once the basic concepts of estate planning are clear, it helps to show that benefits are not only for the rich and famous. Proper estate planning can help people across the wealth spectrum to achieve numerous goals, including:

  • Designating a guardian for children
  • Ensuring homes are transferred to designated beneficiaries in the event of death
  • Keeping a business in family hands throughout generations
  • Protecting your family assets in the case of future divorces
  • Avoiding probate
  • Maintaining privacy of assets since trusts are not public records
  • Making provisions for digital assets/online accounts

Estate planning solutions provide value to a majority of Americans, regardless of income, yet a large percentage of the population aren’t properly protecting themselves. You have the ability to change this trend and help clients prepare for the future. It can seem like a daunting task, but WealthCounsel offers will and estate planning software to help you leverage your expertise and build your practice.  

Download the complete Estate Planning Awareness Survey to learn more about the gaps in estate planning awareness and how you can employ estate planning education to gain new clients, deepen relationships with existing ones, and grow your estate planning practice.

What Do Americans Think About Estate Planning?

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