While I knew the main mechanism for engaging younger beneficiaries would be through estate planning services, I reviewed my processes and came to another revelation: The estate planning offering I was providing wasn’t enough! I did estate planning with all my clients, or at least what I thought was sufficient estate planning. I provided the link to our main estate planning attorney, collaborated on constructing their documents, worked with our in-house CPA to tax-plan for those estates large enough to be affected, and assisted with titling accounts or suggesting ideas to protect the assets. Ironically, none of these measures were good enough. Using this approach wasn’t going to solve the connection to the beneficiaries.I soon came to several realizations: First, I fully accepted that estate planning was as important as financial planning, and secondly, I knew all my clients would pass someday. It was also my reason to better engage with the beneficiaries. I learned that estate planning involves more than just the transfer of money and the protection of assets. Most of my clients held the same incorrect assumptions as I did. What estate planning really includes is your client’s legacy, their family dynamics and the core values, funerals, heirlooms, pictures, stories… The list could go on and on. This type of extended planning was the missing link to connecting with those beneficiaries and solidifying those relationships. By providing a more complete level of estate and legacy planning, I developed a reason for engaging those beneficiaries regardless of assets. What I found out was that when I began this level of planning, my clients engaged me with their beneficiaries and made them an intricate part of the planning because it included their legacy.The bottom line is that my clients really didn’t know how to accomplish this on their own, and ready-made solutions did not exist to help facilitate this kind of thorough intergenerational pass-down. My clients valued these concepts as much as they valued their own money and the transfer of it. They wanted to share stories, they wanted to remove the burden to their families upon death, and so much more. When I introduced them to this concept, a whole new door opened. The deliverable now to my client was more thorough, and this fostered many new relationships and referrals. Simply put, by focusing a little more on this area of my practice, I protected the bottom line, my clients, and the relationships I have with them and their beneficiaries, not to mention the growth and the future of my practice. If you’re an advisor reading this article, take it from me: Strengthen your estate and legacy planning now or you will feel this pain later. Don’t fall into the trap I did.
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David R. Duringer, JD, LL.M, is a concealed firearm instructor and tax lawyer specializing in business and estate planning; licensed to practice law in the states of California and Washington. He is managing shareholder at Protective Law Corporation, serving Southern California from its Laguna Hills (Orange County) headquarters and satellite offices in San Diego County (Coronado and Carlsbad).
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