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September 28, 2022

Estate Planning Software - Advice for Managers and their Clients

Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, famously said: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” The idiom is a common one and, unfortunately, not far from the truth. Death is ironically one of the certainties of life and in the world in which we live, is very closely linked to the finances that govern our society. A staggering 68 per cent of Americans do not have a will and as such, run the dangerous risk of dying intestate, without the proper estate planning in place.

A Financial Necessity

When it comes to finances, estate planning is a basic necessity. Finances are a made a lot more complicated and complex for the survivors if a thorough estate plan is not in place. And it’s important to note that estate planning is more than just writing out a will and signing it. All assets and wishes needed to be accounted for so that the individuals wishes are all met after they pass on. Thorough planning is an essential part of asset management and ensure that everything runs smoothly when they need to be transferred at an inevitable point in the future. The financial risks involved in dying intestate – or without a will – have been meticulously documented. In such an event, all property and other assets are automatically transferred to surviving spouses or descendants which is not always the wish of an individual, neither possible for unmarried couples or non-traditional family set ups. The situation of intestacy is commonly linked to the psychological fears and stigma that exist surrounding mortality and the reluctance of many to contemplate death and talk about it with others. In such cases, it is important for individuals to recognise the significance of having a clear estate management roadmap in place and for those responsible for guiding them, to tactfully steer the conversation to help develop a clear and definite plan.

Things To Do Before You Die

The concept of a “bucket list” is not a new one, and many people spend years ticking the items off them. Abseiling down a waterfall, learning an instrument, catching a wave while surfing, getting a tattoo, going skinny dipping, swimming with dolphins – these are the usual adventurous goals that people want to achieve before they die. Did you know there is also a financial bucket list of financially responsible things that you should do before you die as well? If you are looking to make these kinds of plans, this is a good checklist to consider. If on the other hand you are a professional estate manager, a set of priorities like the following are what you can use to get your clients working in the right direction.

  1. Make a list. Item one on the list: make another list. Create a comprehensive inventory of all your valuable items, inside and outside your home. You’ll like to realise you have a longer list than you first thought. As you make the list, it might help recall individuals that you would like to pass these items on to – jot those down as you go.
  2. Remember the intangibles. Don’t forget the non-physical assets, things that you own on paper or bank accounts and life insurance policies that are predicate on your death. Make a note of all the account information and specify where the physical documents are kept. Think of it as a treasure map for your loved ones when you leave – don’t leave anything to chance!
  3. List the debts too. Besides a list of the things you own, make a list of the things you owe. This could include things like mortgages, auto loans, and even credit cards. Again, provide all the information that would be needed to access them too.
  4. List the clubs you belong to. This doesn’t mean the golf club or bowling society – professional organisations may have life insurance benefits for their members which will be of benefit to the ones you leave your assets to in the future. It’s a good idea to also include the charities you donate to or ones that are close to your heart. This way donations made in your memory will go to a cause that you supported too.
  5. Make more lists. Now you’ve got these lists together, make lots of copies of them – at least three, and make sure you date and sign them too. Give one to the manager of your estate, give another copy to your beneficiaries and keep another one in a safe deposit box. The last one you can keep yourself in a safe place that you will remember.
  6. Keep your insurance up to date. Life insurance will pass directly on to your beneficiaries when you pass on so make sure these contacts are up to date and correct.
  7. Get professional help. There are responsible, qualified experts out there who will be able to deal with the responsibility of your estate without the emotional toll it would take on a family member or loved one. They will also have a multitude of tools and a wealth of knowledge at their disposal to help you. So, on the subject of professionals…

For the Professionals

If you are a professional estate manager, you understand why a position of intestacy is a precarious place to be. On the other hand, you understand the hard work involved in managing a client’s affairs. Keeping track of important documents, managing relevant information, allocating assets, and juggling the massive amount of data involved is no easy feat. With all of this in mind, this is where estate planning software may come in to save the day.

A centralised platformed will allow to keep tabs on the progress of various tasks, keep other parties and beneficiaries in the loop and automate time consuming processes. When less time is taken up with paperwork, you’ll be able to spend more time building a close bond with your clients. When that is your priority, you’re going to improve the loyalty your current clients have as well as prove your good reputation to prospective clients. Reliable work is good for business, so do all you can to prove yourself a kind, tactful and helpful estate manager.

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