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Mourning Has Multidimensional Costs – How Effective Estate Planning Can Ease Some of the Stress

Effective estate planning is crucial to the people your bank, credit union, financial advisory or other financial services company serves, whether they have come completely to grips with that reality or not. Having the right plans in place helps reduce the burden that loved ones bear in settling an estate and can significantly reduce the painful wait for it to settle.

The grief that mourners are left dealing with only makes the burden heavier. The costs can add up, and they involve more than just money. For instance, a study by the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health found that people in that state were 1.5 times more likely to visit a doctor 20 or more times in the two-year period after the death of a loved one. Even more striking, those over age 50 were more than twice as likely to die during bereavement.

The researchers cited depression and stress from the bereavement itself – the effects of which can include reverting to bad habits such as smoking, drinking and ignoring medical conditions. All that can add up to missed work, adding to the physical and material costs associated with the bereaved’s own health and paying the bills the deceased left behind.

Working-Aged People Bear the Burden

Wherever they live, the psychological and physical burden is most keenly felt by working-age people, those most likely to be part of the sandwich generation – responsible for caring for children and parents alike.

Employers can help. While there’s no federal bereavement leave policy, some states have them, and so do about 90% of U.S. companies, according to the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

But that time off is very limited, and one of the potentially biggest stresses, dealing with the liabilities and assets of the deceased’s estate can take months, not just a few days following a funeral. That time and uncertainty just add to the stress that, as we alluded to above, can take years off a person’s life.

That’s also one area where you can really step up as a holistic provider of financial services. A great first step is to offer streamlined, digital online estate planning platforms that are easy to use, simple but powerful, and complete. OneDigitalTrust is just that, as featured in new Javelin research. We provide single sign-on access to create legally valid wills, trusts, power of attorney, healthcare directives, guardianships, probate trackers and more, even a pet trust. It’s not just legal documents but we also offer estate analysis and optimization tools, plus hyper-personalized info to understand the implications of key aspects of the plan. These are all features that democratize capabilities previously available to the ultra-rich only. And, we provide a virtual vault for organizing all this, along with strategic guidance throughout your journey.

Cross-sell Effective Estate Planning Across Generations

Banks, credit unions, financial advisors, insurance agencies, benefits providers, and more can offer an easy-to-understand, effective estate planning process to help your organization attract and retain customers and members. Banks and credit unions that also have in-house advisors and insurers can use our platform as an opportunity to upsell your other services. That creates the opportunity for fee income while engaging with the consumers you serve in a highly valuable, personal and meaningful way. Our powerful platform also provides your organization with rich financial data on your members and customers so you can understand and better serve them. That’s a powerful cross-sell for you and a small cost many an aging baby boomer, Gen Xer, and even younger generations might happily bear when presented with the opportunity.

170M Americans need an estate plan. OneDigitalTrust offers a white-label, turnkey estate planning platform with pricing options tailored to the needs of banks, credit unions, financial advisors, wealth managers, insurance firms, employee benefit providers and more.

Contact us today to learn more!

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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!