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How do you get the right estate planning professional connections?

Can a financial planner and an estate planner working closely together be a marriage made in heaven? The answer to this question has to be yes from the perspective of your client and from your own firm’s perspective.

But, that is ‘yes’ with a caveat, as long as both elements of the partnership have similar levels of training, ethical standards, and have the client’s interests at the heart of the proposition.

A good professional connection partnership can benefit your business and turnover as much as it can protect a client’s estate.

We currently pass back more than £2m of investment business every month to our partner IFA firms. This is often funds that advisers are unaware that the client has squirreled away and only becomes apparent at the estate planning stage.

As well as the additional income created, many thousands of families have been saved from the potentially devastating effects of intestacy. Others have been able to avoid expensive probate costs, had worries about children losing their inheritance in the event of a second marriage removed and, of course, protected their prized assets from being lost to pay for long term care or Inheritance Tax.

But back to that caveat if I can, and let me expand…. It is important that financial planners develop professional connections with the right type of partner firm so a careful vetting process must take place.

The Will Writing Company was initially founded in 1990 and became founder members of the Institute of Professional Will-Writers, who are committed to driving up standards of training and services within the estate planning industry. All members of the IPW are subject to a strict external examination process as well as a programme of continuing personal development.

But many bodies and organisations do not have such high professional standards and ongoing development requirements. You wouldn’t appoint an accountant to handle your affairs if they couldn’t demonstrate that they were of the required standard would you?

The typical services available through an estate planning partner include wills, power of attorneys, trusts, care cost and IHT planning, pre-paid funeral planning and probate/confirmation.   

It is also essential that clients receive accurate advice and information, and that can only truly be done by using specialist legal knowledge based on the law of the land relevant to where the client lives, not by where the financial planner is based. Make sure your professional partners are able to provide the services where your client is located. This is easily over-looked.

Lastly, a word of caution that I’m sure you’ve heard before but possibly not in this context. This warning is based on current trends in your industry and on actual experience….If you don’t look after your clients…somebody else will.

This is evidenced by the increasing number of high street banks and other financial institutions getting in on the act, and by the increasing prominence estate planning has within their plans for customers..

Which poses the question: Which of your clients does not have a relationship with a high street bank or building society? If the answer is that all of them do, then perhaps it’s time to shut the door to potential intruders by facilitating all of their estate planning needs before somebody else does and tries to encroach on the business you already have. Estate planning can be very lucrative for these banks – just as it could be for you.

Tom Gormanly is managing director of The Will Writing Company


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There are 3 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. There’s some good points here. A well known high street bank has been all over an uncle of mine to arrange an appointment to talk about his will….. I’m sure they just care about him though…..

  2. Ian, perhaps it is just the ‘long term relationship’ they are after. AKA their probate charges, never mind what they can dig up in the short term 🙂 (High Street Bank just ‘advised’ one of my clients to cancel their ‘expensive’ IHT JLSD WOL policy for one of their cheaper ones – on a maximum basis. Fine if you are certain both of you will die within 10 years – whole mess took ages to clear up and reinstate), who at HMG cares – isn’t it Mark Hoban’s mum who has always been well advised by her bank? How does he know? I suspect he means she feels warm and comfy with them, can be a mile apart from good advice……

  3. Very well said, as an Estate Planner with Will Services Scotland I often find that clients will tell me all their assets and nearly always it is more than what they have told their IFA and usually needing more advice.

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