How to Make Money in Trust Administration

Jun 11, 2019 9:02:00 AM

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Attorneys who work in trust administration know that revenue streams can be volatile—up one month and down the next. Not only does unreliable cash flow make running a practice stressful, but it can also hinder a firm’s’ long-term growth. So, how does one create a profitable, yet steady, revenue stream in trust administration? One attorney has some advice. Jessica Pannell, JD, of JM Law, PLLC in McLean, Virginia, has been sharing her practice’s challenges and successes in trust administration with colleagues all over the nation.

“When it comes to making money in trust administration, there are a few options attorneys can start working on implementing in their own practice,” says Jessica. Here are just a few:

Use your professional network

Marketing is two-fold. Many attorneys focus their marketing efforts externally—on their website, commercials, paid Google ads, Yelp reviews, etc. However, attorneys shouldn’t forget their closest allies—their professional network. These people already know who you are, and by proxy, will be an easier, cheaper resource for new and repeat business.

When it comes to marketing, attorneys can and should focus their efforts on increasing trust and estate referrals from their advisor networks. One can begin cultivating these relationships by becoming a resource to advisors and providing free legal expertise in the form of recorded podcasts for advisors to listen to, authoring guest articles or blog posts for advisors to share with their clients, and conducting advisor workshops.

While these relationships may take time to build and maintain, they still remain one of the most fruitful ways to generate a steady stream of business.

Nurture existing client relationships

Attorneys should also take advantage of promoting their trust and estate administration services to their existing client base. If you have a multi-service practice, then don’t forget to tell non-probate and non-trust administration clients of your estate planning services. Additionally, attorneys can communicate what additional estate planning benefits your practice provides, which leads us onto Jessica’s next point:

Implement a client care program

Implementing a client care or maintenance program is the perfect way to generate repeat business from a single source while also building relationships with the next generation of clients who may be beneficiaries or trustees.  

A client care program can look and operate differently from practice to practice, and depend on your clients’ needs and your operational capacity. One option is to offer annual review meetings where you go over a client’s financials and trust funding, look at fiduciaries and beneficiaries, and review the plan structure upon first death and second death. Since trusts operate best when they reflect a client’s current wishes and assets, these meetings can easily generate more business as clients gain new assets over time and experience shifts in familial dynamics, which of course, need to be taken into account in their estate plan.

Annual review meetings can also ensure that any trust funding issues are discovered, provide an educational opportunity for the next generation of trustees and beneficiaries, and identify potential conflicts or issues within the family.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, then consider attending WealthCounsel’s annual estate planning conference— Symposium— in Boston this July. There you can meet Jessica Pannell, JD, and hear her speak at the session, “Making Money in Trust Administration.” Read the conference agenda, see similar courses, and register for the event here.


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