Helping clients see the importance of getting on with estate planning
Understandably, the pandemic has made it incredibly easy for some clients to defer planning that they think is daunting or unappealing.
If a client doesn’t fully appreciate the importance of estate planning and the benefits of planning early, it becomes easy for them to delay making a decision.
This kind of procrastination isn’t new. We’ve heard stories of clients that say, “I’ll think about estate planning when I turn 65” only to turn 65 and say, “I’ll think about it when I turn 70”.
“I find one of the biggest barriers to writing business is clients wanting to talk but never actually going ahead,” explains James Hawkins of Isca Wealth Management.
“It’s not that clients don’t want to do it. It’s just that it can take them a long time to come to a decision.
“Unfortunately, lockdown has been a great excuse for some clients to say, ‘I’ll tell you what, let’s wait until this is over.’”
So how can you help clients put more urgency behind their estate planning?
Tip – Show clients the size of their liability
“Using an inheritance tax calculator can be quite useful because it just opens up the client’s eyes,” explains James.
“What I tend to do is then show my client what their situation would be if they had started their planning a year or two ago.”
When a client has a very clear picture of the difference planning could make, it becomes easier to stress the importance of putting planning in place now.
“You’ve got to explain to a client the importance of moving this planning forward as quickly as possible,” says Paul Robinson of Moneyweb.
“If a client did want to put off estate planning, I would ask them what they felt the benefit of waiting was.
“With all inheritance tax planning, the earlier a client starts, the better position they’re going to be in further down the line.
“The problem is not going to go away if they don’t do anything about it. And ultimately, delaying conversations could cost a client 40%.”
The Octopus inheritance tax calculator gives you an option to download a PDF of your client’s calculation, which you can then send to the client. So there’s no need for a video call if the client prefers a simple phone call or to look at something in front of them. This useful tool can be found in our client conversations toolkit below.
Tip – Find ways to involve the family
Making the conversation about what the client wants for their children or grandchildren’s future can help them see estate planning as a priority.
Once a client acknowledges what’s important to them, it can make conversations about inheritance tax that bit easier.
“We tend not to start by talking about inheritance tax with any client,” says David Hardman of Ludlow Wealth Management.
“We spend a lot of time trying to understand what’s important to the client, where they want to get to and what their time frames are.
“Then you start to have that discussion about what they are really trying to achieve and why that’s important.
“If you identify the issue and the client acknowledges it as an issue, you don’t tend to get that deferral of ‘let’s just wait another year or two and see what happens.’”
One technique we’ve seen advisers use to great effect is simply drawing out a client’s family tree with them. Once you get talking about children and grandchildren, the conversation becomes about legacy and not about inheritance tax.
And what better way to help a client acknowledge what’s important to them than by bringing their beneficiaries directly into the conversation?
“We try to have a client’s sons and daughters involved in the conversation and talk to them about the planning,” says Paul Robinson of Moneyweb.
“Some clients we deal with are potentially vulnerable, so it’s a good idea to involve the whole family in conversations anyway. But it’s also an opportunity to talk about the benefits to the family of what’s going to come down the line for them.”
Including the children and grandchildren in conversations can also help bring younger generations of the family on as clients as well.
We have two resources to help you bring a client’s beneficiaries into conversations.
One is an editable PDF that hundreds of advisers have used, called “What I own and where I keep it”.
Another is a guide to being an executor.
Together, these can help a family begin to prepare for the passing down of wealth. And help beneficiaries understand their role as executors. This can be a good starting point from which to talk about planning for inheritance tax, with the whole family already involved in discussions.
These useful tools can be found in our client conversations toolkit below.
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