Categories
Blog

Why is it important for credit unions to ensure members have a will or trust?

A death in the family ushers in a time that can be fraught with trauma and confusion. Questions around how to distribute that loved one’s assets via a will or trust, and who’s in charge of doing that, can be a particularly volatile part of the problem, even with modest estates.

Credit unions have always specialized in serving everyday people, and they can play a unique role in helping their members by making it easy for them to create estate planning documents, such as wills and trusts.

While there are some key differences, wills and trusts achieve the same end: They ensure the deceased person’s belongings, financial assets and real property are distributed according to their wishes. Without that, a person has died ‘intestate’ and state laws on ‘intestacy’ kick in, and that means leaving those crucial decisions up to probate courts and wrapped in red tape.

Wills are usually the first choice to consider for estate planning, and while they typically must go through probate, a concise, legally created will generally makes that a simple process. More complex situations, such as blended families, special-needs dependents and business assets might benefit even further from a clearly outlined trust.

Estimates are that about two-thirds of Americans don’t have a will or trust in place. Helping to ensure families address this critical aspect of financial planning in advance is yet another way your credit union can promote members’ financial well-being.

A natural next step in member service

Credit unions were established for people who otherwise could not obtain credit from banks to pool their assets and offer loans to each other. In recent decades, credit unions have greatly expanded their range of services and their commitment to providing complete financial care for members’ holistic financial wellness.

Indeed, your credit union may offer financial education materials already to improve members’ money management. Adding estate planning into the mix is a natural next step. A surprising number of adults do not have these end-of-life documents in place and education is a huge part of moving the needle in the right direction.

Encouraging members to outline an estate plan can prevent your staff from being caught in the middle of a traumatic financial and familial nightmare after the death of a member without proper documentation.

Instead of acting as a neutral third party trying to sort out a messy situation around account funds and asset distribution, you can point grieving families to the member’s documented wishes. This allows you to avoid emotionally charged conflict during an already difficult time.

A digital solution checks all the boxes for this generation and the next

Millennials are now the largest generation, they’re also often homeowners and parents at the stage when estate planning becomes particularly crucial to ensure proper distribution of assets and care for minor children should the unexpected befall them. It should be part of their overall financial awareness and action. And, as the generation who hit this stage of life during a global pandemic, it’s likely top of mind for them, too.

Additionally, your credit union can become an integral part of the “great wealth transfer.” What is that? It’s the $72 trillion in wealth currently held by baby boomers, much of which will be inherited by their millennial children. There’s ample opportunity for your credit union to provide a valuable service to these members, as well as be compensated for it in a way that is not interest-rate sensitive: non-interest income.

Millennials are also the first wave of members who expect to accomplish most everything digitally first. Providing a secure way to create and manage wills, trusts and similar documents through your credit union’s digital banking provides a new level of service to them and stickiness for you.

With a white-label digital solution fully integrated into your existing platforms, you can take credit for providing an innovative service that members will appreciate through one of the interfaces they already use and trust – your digital banking. Keep pace with the technological expectations of your younger members while building loyalty!

Delivering value while promoting responsible planning demonstrates your commitment to your members’ overall financial well-being. Digital estate planning checks all the boxes for why credit unions exist and how they can best serve member needs today. OneDigitalTrust delivers white-label, turnkey estate planning capabilities for legally valid documents in all 50 states, plus DC, with the highest data security and enterprise scalability. Is your credit union ready to take the next step in holistic member well-being?

170M Americans need an estate plan. OneDigitalTrust offers a white-label, turnkey estate planning platform with pricing options tailored to the needs of individual credit unions and financial advisors.

Contact us today to learn more!

Categories
Blog

Credit Unions Have Education and Opportunity Around Estate Planning

Death and taxes are two of life’s inevitabilities for credit union members and everybody else. But being prepared is optional, and that means opportunity for member-owned financial cooperatives to help make a difference when it comes to members’ estate planning.

A recent survey of more than 2,400 American adults conducted by YouGov for Caring.com found that only 34% had estate documents in place. The same survey found that people ages 18 to 34 are now 63% more likely to have an estate plan than they were in 2020. That points to growing interest from a sweet spot for growing engagement: the younger set.

As not-for-profit financial institutions whose core principles focus on financial wellness and opportunity, credit unions can build business and deepen relationships with all generations by including estate planning in your lineup of products and services.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Even if it’s a trust.

Wills and trusts have the same goal – distribution of the deceased’s assets (investments, savings, property and possessions) per their wishes legally and efficiently. But there are some key differences to note.

A will is a legal document that names an executor to oversee the liquidation of the estate and lays out how to distribute the assets among family, friends, charitable causes, etc., as well as such matters as naming a guardian for minor children.

Further, a will only takes effect after death, and in most cases a probate court must validate the document before the assets can be distributed. This can be a very lengthy and stressful process for your members if they have not planned properly.

Trusts, meanwhile, are also legal estate plans but with some significant differences. For one, people can serve as their own trustees while they are still live. That’s often the case with what’s probably the most common type of trust: living, or revocable, trusts. They are what they sound like: You can revoke and alter them to reflect your changing wishes and feelings as time goes on and circumstances change.

You also can use the assets placed into the living trust any way you want while you’re still alive and in charge, as well as name in advance who manages your financial affairs if you become incapacitated before death.

A will is typically simpler and less expensive than a trust, but the latter can provide faster distribution of assets and greater privacy. Trusts don’t go through probate. Probated documents, including wills, are typically public information.

Education and opportunity for your credit union and your members.

As a trusted financial partner, your credit union can play a vital role in encouraging and facilitating effective estate planning for your members. Helping them understand the importance of having a plan in the first place, providing a clear view of their options, and then helping make it happen are all crucial inflection points in which credit unions can play a role for their members.

Of course, you don’t have to go it alone. Consider integrating a robust, comprehensive estate planning platform into your shop’s digital financial planning and wellness offerings or provide it as a stand-alone service.

The younger generation of members and potential members are already showing a growing interest in estate planning and they’re also digital natives, who will expect to do as much as they can on their own and online.

The older crowd, too, are used to doing more and more online since COVID and increasingly open to using such a digital platform to create and maintain legally valid wills and trusts.

The benefits include:

  • Peace of mind for members: Providing tools for legacy planning gives your members peace of mind knowing their heirs and chosen causes will be gifted as the member chooses.
  • Enhanced member loyalty: By helping members secure their financial future, credit unions foster deeper, stickier relationships and long-term trust.
  • New revenue streams: As credit unions move away from overdraft and other fees, estate planning represents an opportunity to replace other declining non-interest income.
  • Increased digital engagement: Integrating estate planning services into your digital platforms can boost mobile app engagement and provide lead generation among high-net-worth members for your credit union’s wealth managers.

Choosing between a will and a trust is just the beginning. By actively educating members and empowering them to make wise choices while taking advantage of digital services, credit unions boost their own bottom line, deepen member relationships and trust, and, as importantly, better empower their members to build a secure and well-managed legacy.

All these things matter to today’s forward-looking credit union.

170M Americans need an estate plan. OneDigitalTrust offers a white-label, turnkey estate planning platform with pricing options tailored to the needs of individual credit unions and financial advisors.

Contact us today to learn more!