Estate Plans can be created by anyone, not just attorneys...
Many Financial Advisors mistakenly believe that only an attorney can create an Estate Plan. That’s not true.
The creation of estate planning documents is not a legal service. As an example, anyone can prepare their own estate plan using software like HIP, LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer, NOLO, or Suze Orman. However, most consumers don’t feel comfortable in this capacity which is why attorneys have stepped in to help.
The problems Financial Advisor’s face when referring their clients to an estate planning attorney are three-fold:
The Attorney (not the Advisor) is the one who builds a relationship with the entire family.
Attorneys can cost thousands of dollars – which leads many people to skip creating an estate plan.
Attorneys rarely refer business to Financial Advisors, which means that Advisors are unable to drive revenue through the estate planning process.
We estimate 75% to 80% of estate plans are “basic.”
Meaning, they are simple and straightforward to create. Unfortunately, these are exactly the types of estate plans that are frequently skipped. At HIP our goal is to help Financial Advisors identify these types of estate plans and enable their clients to prepare them.
At Helios Integrated Planning our goal is to help Financial Advisors identify these types of estate plans and enable their clients to prepare them.
That being said, there are several complex situations an experienced estate planning attorney is needed. Helios Integrated Planning helps the Financial Advisor identify these in three ways...
Each Advisor is required to complete the HIP training modules before the HIP account is activated.
The Helios software will flag and alert the Advisor if a choice has been made by their client that is complex. The system will allow the plan to be created, but will be deeply reviewed by Helios’ Estate Planners or Attorneys and may require further conversations.
If a situation is too complex, Helios will notify the Advisor to seek a local estate planning attorney or tax professional.
Helios has identified a couple of areas a Financial Advisor needs to be aware of risks, which include but are not limited to...
Awareness of their client’s mental capacity
In practice: As a Financial Advisor, this is already something that is part of the day-to-day process of running a practice.
How HIP mitigates: The Helios training modules address this topic specifically.
Providing legal advice
In practice: Financial Advisors are constantly giving tax and legal advice to clients, but at HIP we want to be sure Financial Advisors don’t put themselves in this situation.
How HIP mitigates: Legal advice is an “application of the law” to a specific scenario. The Helios training provides customary ways Advisors can answer common questions without providing legal advice. In addition, the HIP software is built-in with answers to every question asked.
The Helios training modules which accompany any Advisor who would like to coordinate an Estate Plan will coach Financial Advisors to only coordinate “basic” estate plans. Any estate plan that is not “basic” will be flagged by the Helios system for deeper examination or referral to a local estate planning attorney.
Examples of the more complex plans include, but are not limited to:
Disinheriting an heir
Not allowing a surviving spouse full control after the first spouse dies
Creating specific gifts to beneficiaries, instead of equal shares to all beneficiaries
Estates requiring tax advice
The first Estate Plan is free... are you ready to take the next step?