How to Tailor the Conversation to Their Goals

Professionals often have a clear path to starting the estate planning discussion when their clients have children, as many estate planning discussions center around clients’ objectives for passing their wealth, properties, and legacy to the next generation.

Because of this traditional emphasis on the next generation, individuals and couples without children can easily arrive at the conclusion that they don’t need the same level of detail in their own plans or, worse yet, that they don’t need a plan at all. Nevertheless, there are several ways to help estate planning resonate with individuals and couples who aren’t parents.

Reframe the planning conversation
You can keep these clients engaged and help them find fulfillment by shifting your message away from discussions about bettering future generations and focusing instead on ways to plan for life, the future, and a legacy. Remind them that estate planning deals with a wide range of important issues like ensuring trusted people can make decisions if the client is unable to do so because of illness, incapacity, or death, and supporting meaningful causes they care about.

Planning for flexibility and the future “what-ifs” of life is important for child-free clients. Working successfully with these clients involves helping them pinpoint their core motivations and goals regarding their wealth and legacy. Ask them to reflect on the following questions:
• Why are you saving and investing?
• What do you want to accomplish during your life?
• What legacy do you want to leave?
• What impact do you want to leave?
Exploring these topics helps clients without children become engaged in estate and financial planning.

Think upstream for younger clients
Rather than directing their assets toward their descendants, some clients, especially young, single, and child-free clients, may be inclined toward transferring their wealth “upstream” to their parents or grandparents.

Issues arise, however, when these plans are not optimized for the issues faced by older beneficiaries. Certain estate planning solutions can help them make a positive impact on their older loved ones’ lives in regards to Medicaid, asset protection concerns, and blended families. Clients who want to leave their wealth “upstream” must discuss their goals with an estate planner to ensure the plan will work as intended.

Protecting their spouse for married clients
If a client is married, the focus can be on protecting his or her spouse upon the death of the client. Making certain that assets pass to the spouse in a simple, inexpensive and protective manner is often paramount for married clients. Also providing a level of certainty that at least some of the estate will pass according to each spouse’s wishes no matter who dies first.

An emphasis on philanthropy
Charitable planning may be more prevalent for clients without children. This is especially true for older individuals who have built lifelong connections to a particular passion that they’d like to support. Talking to these clients in terms of their potential for creating a positive impact is a helpful strategy for all parties involved.

In many cases, a comprehensive plan may be a better strategy than simply naming a favorite charity as a beneficiary on an investment account. One of the biggest risks these clients face is that they often assume that a simple plan is the best, but that assumption may, sadly, limit the opportunity they have to leave an impact.

Avoiding intestacy
Clients rarely want their assets ending up with a distant relative or being claimed by the state, and will appreciate developing a plan that’s meaningful to them. When an individual dies without leaving a will, this is referred to as “dying intestate.” This scenario brings with it a number of complications, as the state legislature has essentially written the client’s estate plan for them. For clients without children, this is often not the estate plan they would have selected.

Different generations take different approaches to life, and your likelihood of working with more childless clients is increasing. The birthrate in the U.S. has been low for decades, but there were record low fertility rates in 2017 and 2018, as many millennial women and couples are choosing to delay or avoid parenthood.

Helping these clients define clear, personal goals for financial and estate planning is an excellent way to add value to your financial planning services and engage with this growing demographic. Let’s schedule a quick discussion to cover other ways you can build trust and increase engagement with your clients. Give us a call today (978) 825-0033.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as written advice about a Federal or state tax matter. Readers should consult with their own professional advisors to evaluate or pursue tax, accounting, financial, or legal planning strategies and should not rely on the information in this post.

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