With much of the country sheltering at home, your clients may have more time on their hands. And with market turbulence and economic uncertainty on the minds of many Americans these days, your clients may be watching their portfolio balances a little more closely – and frequently – than usual as of late.
Consequently, your clients may be concerned about their fluctuating investment values. After all, they are investing to help enjoy a comfortable retirement, provide for loved ones and achieve a wide range of other important goals. When markets are down, clients may feel worried about their financial security, regardless of their circumstances.
As a financial professional, you know a great deal about people’s hopes and fears. You can address both at this time by helping clients think about the future – and focus on what they can control.
When reassuring clients, you’ll likely review their goals, risk tolerance, liquidity needs and asset allocation. Once you’ve discussed portfolio fundamentals, an especially opportune topic for today’s news cycle may be legacy goals and how to prepare to pass wealth to the people and causes your clients care about. A good way to ease clients into estate planning conversations is to help them find the right executor.
Of course, as clients begin to think about choosing an executor, they may want to consider a spouse, child, other family member or close friend. This impulse is natural, because the decision to select an executor is based on trust – since the executor will be handling all the personal details of a client’s financial affairs and potentially getting involved in private family matters.
Nonetheless, you may want to encourage clients to think more broadly about selecting an executor. Help clients understand the following five considerations before they make this important estate planning decision.
Experience with managing money and dealing with financial institutions may be beneficial to executors.
The executor’s role does not require a full-time commitment, but the duties can still be time consuming. In fact, even a relatively simple estate may take months to administer. Clients should consider these time demands before asking a busy family member to take on the executor’s role.
The associated duties may be much easier to complete when the executor lives near the individual.
The executor will need to effectively communicate with family members and beneficiaries. Someone who is neutral, unbiased and capable of handling matters in a professional manner will be more successful.
When a family member or loved one passes away, it’s highly emotional, and sometimes traumatic, for those close to the deceased. These factors may affect the person’s ability to carry out the work of an executor, or to think clearly about the many organizational tasks that need immediate attention.
Family Inventory is valuable tool for executors
The Family Inventory guidebook available from RBC Correspondent and Advisor Services is designed to help clients document the information that executors and heirs will someday need for estate settlement. Topics include personal data, names of professional advisors, bank accounts, investments, real estate holdings, digital assets, insurance, medical history, funeral wishes and information, if any, on a will.
Recommending clients complete the Family Inventory guidebook can be a practical first step in helping them develop their estate plans. Once they complete, it will be an invaluable tool for the executor. (The Inventory also contains a glossary of estate-planning terms and contact information for those government organizations, such as Social Security and the IRS, involved in settling estates.)
Be sure to share the Family Inventory guidebook with your clients. Its easy-to-use, can be stored electronically and updated whenever clients experience significant changes in their personal or financial situations (i.e., marriage, divorce, remarriage, new child, etc.)
Help clients take first steps toward leaving a legacy they desire
By giving your clients the guidance they need to choose the right executor and connecting them to the Family Inventory guidebook, you demonstrate your commitment to their long-term financial wellbeing – which may be comforting when headwinds are in the short-term economic and market forecasts.
And by including your client’s legacy goals in your wealth planning conversations, you create clear value as a financial professional in your clients’ eyes. That’s a “win-win” outcome for all.