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Chipping Away at the Mass Market Estate Planning Deficit: 3 Essential Strategies

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Just about everybody is busy. Daily life demands that our attention be focused on  family, work, and the ‘to-do list” that seems never ending. Because of this, estate planning often takes a backseat. A staggering 70% of Americans do not have an up-to-date will, and that number is worse in communities of color. Not having an updated will can leave assets and loved ones vulnerable in the event of their passing. How can online providers of wills and other estate planning documents make a significant national impact to help reduce this deficit? There is a promising solution: embedding online wills into everyday American transactions and experiences. Here are three core areas where online will providers can help close the estate planning deficit.

1. Financial and Protection Transactions

Imagine if creating or updating your will was as easy as checking your bank account balance or making a purchase online. By embedding online will services into everyday financial transactions, such as banking, investment, or insurance transactions, individuals can seamlessly access and manage their estate planning needs.

Banking

Banks and credit unions can play a significant role in closing the estate planning gap by offering simple, online wills to their customers. Here are several ways they can help:

  • Partnerships with Online Will Providers: Most Americans need a simple, easy to prepare will. Financial institutions can partner with online will providers to offer an embedded link to a branded online will and either offer discounted versions or provide them for free. 
  • Integration into Existing Platforms: Integrate online will services into the most popular online banking platforms like checking accounts, savings accounts and money transfers. This would allow customers to easily access and create their wills while managing their finances, making the process convenient and accessible.
  • Educational Resources: Provide educational resources to customers about the importance of estate planning and the benefits of creating a will. This can help raise awareness and encourage more people to act.
  • Financial Advisors: Most banks and credit unions have financial advisors available to assist with retirement planning, investment management, etc. These individuals are in a unique position to embed digital will planning into their practice as an added benefit for doing business with the financial institution.

Online Investment Brokers

Big-name brokers like Schwab, Fidelity and E*Trade and online upstarts like Robinhood, Interactive Brokers and TradeStation can reach millions of “under-willed” clients with embedded offers for online wills.

  • Integrate into Investment Platforms: Clients can access branded digital wills at a discount or offered including this service as part of the overall package of services. The online wills portal can be placed on the same platform that investors use to manage their investments, making it convenient and seamless.
  • Educational Resources: Investment brokers can provide educational resources to clients about the importance of estate planning and how to use the online will service. This can help raise awareness and encourage clients to act.
  • Incentives and Rewards: Investment brokers can offer incentives or rewards to clients who complete their estate planning through the online service. This could include discounts on investment fees or other perks to encourage participation.

Property/Casualty and Life Insurers

Property/casualty and life insurers can embed online will planning into their business operations:

  1. Integration with Policy Applications: Insurers can integrate online will planning services at the completion of the application process. This “rider approach” would allow policyholders to easily access a will as a package proposal, streamlining the process and increasing customer satisfaction.
  2. Outreach to Current Customers: P&C and life insurers can enhance relationships with existing customers and increase policy persistency by making discounted or free offers for online wills as part of a regular service and relationship-building outreach.
  3. Incorporation into Policyholder Portals: Insurers can incorporate online will planning services into their policyholder portals. This would enable policyholders to access and update their wills through the same portal they use to manage their insurance policies, making it convenient and easy to create and update digital estate planning documents.

2. Worksite Benefits

Employees are seeking new and useful benefits from their employers. Employers can offer online estate planning as part of an employee benefits package by partnering with online will providers and incorporating the service into their benefits offerings:

  • Integrating into Benefits Platforms: Employers can integrate online estate planning services into their existing benefits platforms. This would allow employees to access the service through the same platform they use to manage other benefits, making it easy and convenient to create or update their wills.
  • Educational Workshops and Materials: Employers can provide educational workshops and materials to employees about the importance of estate planning and how to use the online will service. This can help raise awareness and encourage more employees to take advantage of the offering.
  • Incentives and Rewards: Employers can offer incentives or rewards to employees who complete their estate planning through the online service. This could include gift cards, additional vacation days, or other perks to encourage participation.

By offering online estate planning as part of an employee benefits package, employers can help employees take control of their financial futures and provide them with peace of mind knowing their affairs are in order.

3. Charitable Giving

Six out of ten (or 60%) of American households participate in some sort of charitable giving, according to The Philanthropy Roundtable. That means almost 200 million Americans can be reached through the organizations with which they provide monetary and other support. Nonprofits have a unique opportunity to “kill two birds with one stone” by helping chip away at the estate planning deficit and help their organizations drive long-term planned gifts from current donors:

  1. Driving Planned Gifts: By offering online will services to donors, nonprofits can encourage them to include the organization in their estate plans. This can lead to an increase in planned gifts, providing long-term financial support to the nonprofit.
  2. Helping Donors Manage Estate Planning: Many donors may not have an up-to-date will or may be unsure of how to include charitable gifts in their estate plans. By offering online will services, nonprofits can help donors manage their estate planning needs, ensuring that their assets are distributed according to their wishes.
  3. Educational Opportunities: Offering online will services can also provide nonprofits with an opportunity to educate donors about the importance of estate planning and planned giving. This can help raise awareness about the impact of planned gifts and encourage more donors to include the nonprofit in their estate plans.
  4. Enhancing Donor Relationships: By offering online will services, nonprofits can deepen their relationships with donors. This can lead to increased donor loyalty and support over time, as donors see the organization as a valuable resource for their estate planning needs.
  5. Cost-Effective Solution: Online will services are often more affordable than traditional estate planning services. By offering these services to donors, nonprofits can provide a cost-effective solution for donors to manage their estate planning while also driving planned gifts for the organization. They can even offer these services for free by paying the digital will provider an affordable licensing fee to create a branded donor experience.

Conclusion

Embedding is a hot distribution topic for brands who want to drive new business in ways that reduce the traditional “friction” of the sales process. Online wills can significantly help reduce the “estate planning deficit” for American households. By embedding online estate planning into other transactions, the migration to financial security can happen faster.

LifeLegacy offers a seamless online estate planning experience for financial institutions, employers and nonprofits that helps these entities build strong relationships with prospective and current audiences. And LifeLegacy is the only online will provider that customizes the customer experience for your brand, while providing expert marketing, communication and outreach support.

Interested in learning more about the tools and services LifeLegacy has to offer? Reach out to our team of experts at support@lifelegacy.io to see how your organization can benefit from offering estate planning.

Author: Craig Simms

Author: Craig Simms

Head of Partnerships
Craig@lifelegacy.io

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