You’re the financial expert. You’re the person your clients turn to to determine their insurance needs, protect their assets, and figure out how to prepare for the future. You may discuss the importance of trusts and wills, the importance of retirement, and many other items related to their financial lives. It’s you pulling the levers behind the scenes to ensure their families are protected.
But your clients are more than just a sum of those parts. They have dreams for their children’s future that go beyond the financial realm. So, instead of just being a financial expert, modern-day advisors are experts in their clients’ lives.
I call this the softer side of legacy planning. It’s equally important to become familiar with personal sentiments as it is to understand clients’ financial goals if you want to help them create a holistic plan – one that captures both emotional intent and monetary security. Money evokes a range of emotion – fear, anger, peace of mind – because money is our means of survival. So, if you don’t understand their motivations, what it is they want their money to do, it will be a lot harder to create a plan they’ll embrace.
Here are three aspects of the softer side of legacy planning that you’ll want to pay attention to.
Family traditions and values
It could be as simple as eating dinner together every night or as unconventional as taking off for the Grand Canyon from Minnesota each Christmas Eve to escape the cold. Traditions are opportunities to bond, and, when practiced over time, the bonding effect compounds. It’s important to find out what special things your client’s family does every year because, often, people want to see their children carry on these traditions. The reason these traditions are so important to safeguard is that they represent the values that your clients’ endeavored to instill in their children. Most traditions are born of values that parents are trying to impart, whether its connecting as a family, serving others or stepping outside comfort zones.
People want to be remembered after they’re gone. It’s human nature. Encourage your clients to keep track of their digital photo albums so that their families can access family photos far into the future. You might also suggest they take care to preserve their music. While music trends and tastes can change, a special song might conjure up memories of time spent together. Maybe there was an album that was the soundtrack for those annual Grand Canyon trips, or perhaps Manheim Steamroller faithfully played every time the family gathered to decorate the Christmas tree.
We’ve all had things happen to us that have taught us lessons. While everyone needs to walk their own path and have their own experiences, your clients might want to leave behind guiding principles like “everything in moderation” or “know thyself.” Something I’m often talking about with my children is mitigating risk – not surprising given the line of work I’m in. It’s a theme for many of our conversations. I tell them, don’t avoid something just because there’s a potential negative outcome. If they steered clear of all risk, they’d miss out on so many experiences. Instead, I encourage them to embrace life (provided it isn’t something really dangerous) and take steps to mitigate the risk. If your clients’ kids are anything like mine, they hear their parents’ maxims echoing in their head anytime they’re faced with a decision. Capturing that in their legacy is their chance to offer that loving reminder.
Everyone has a story to tell – experiences, memories and traditions that live on in the hearts of those they love. They might not even recognize these things as part of their legacy plan or realize that they can preserve them. That’s when you explain to them that these aspects of their lives are as much a part of their legacy as their bank accounts.
Help your clients keep those precious life moments alive and accessible to their families with LegacyShield, a legacy-planning platform that offers lifetime connectivity. Our easy-to-navigate platform stores everything their families and financial professionals need to put their legacy into effect; your clients can grant the appropriate level of access to, say, you, an accountant, an attorney, and/or a spouse and children. That way, when the time comes, each person has what he or she needs to carry out your client’s wishes, and they can have peace of mind knowing their family’s future is secure.