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Digital Estate Planning Rounds Out Financial Advisors’ Wheelhouse

The estate planning process is daunting on an emotional and practical level. It’s also costly, with a maze of legal documentation and pricey lawyers. Digital estate planning tools are revolutionizing the field; they offer a more accessible, streamlined and cost-effective approach for financial advisors to guide their clients.

For financial advisors taking on estate planning, your clients benefit from a simplified process and reduced costs. Still, these tools also empower financial advisors to deepen their engagement by providing more holistic, life-long services through the end of the individual’s personal financial journey.

Unveiling the Benefits: Efficiency, Affordability, and Accuracy

Digital estate planning platforms like OneDigitalTrust deftly use technology to expedite the procedure and provide numerous significant benefits.

First, it eliminates the necessity for drawn-out legal consultations. Digital platforms help users identify and classify physical and digital assets, everything from gold bars to cryptocurrency. Robust platforms like OneDigitalTrust seamlessly use that data to produce personalized legal documents, like power of attorney directives, wills, trusts and even sharing of life stories, guaranteeing their finances and their legacy are securely recorded for the next generation.

Second, digital estate planning offers significant cost savings over traditional estate planning, which can deter people from taking the necessary steps. Digital platforms typically charge a subscription fee or a one-time flat fee, making the process far more affordable. This allows a broader range of individuals to secure their legacies without breaking the bank.

Third, digital platforms allow the user to create accurate and clear documents. OneDigitalTrust’s platform produces documents at about a 10th grade reading level without compromising the legal veracity. Of course, as their trusted advisor, you can provide a seamless digital experience for your clients and, as necessary, help guide them through the process. Employing a systematic approach and state templates, these technologies reduce the possibility of mistakes or omissions that often afflict these documents. This helps ensure a more seamless transfer of assets following the death of a loved one.

The Advisor’s Evolving Role: From Investments to Invaluable Guidance

Importantly, your advisory can offer digital estate planning to keep your financial advisors in your client’s entire wealth management process rather than handing them off to an attorney and never hearing anything more about it. While these platforms can automate much of the process, complexities still arise, and your relationship and expertise can make you a hero.

Financial advisors are well-versed in all aspects of their clients’ financial circumstances, including insurance plans, retirement accounts and investment portfolios. Digital estate planning tools are critical to making an advisor’s services more comprehensive with limited additional time commitment.

OneDigitalTrust can help record beneficiary designations by asset, which are available in a visual waterfall of the distribution of assets. Our Financial Advisors portal helps financial advisors engage customers in a meaningful dialogue that supports their long-term financial outcomes and demonstrates tremendous added value with little effort on the advisor’s part.

By initiating and continuing discussions about digital legacies, advisors can foster trust and demonstrate their commitment to a client’s long-term well-being. This strengthens the bond between advisor and client, positioning the advisor as a trusted confidant – not just a trusted financial manager.

The Financial Advantage: New Revenue Streams and Client Retention

Financial advisors have much to gain from digital estate planning. Advisors and their employers can tap new services, glean additional data on their clients, and even help prevent elder financial abuse through OneDigitalTrust’s estate planning platform.

Moreover, digital estate planning fosters client retention. Clients who receive comprehensive financial planning, including digital legacy management, are more likely to maintain a long-term relationship with their advisor, boosting the chances of keeping that relationship with the next generation. This capability bolsters the advisor and the organization’s reputation as a comprehensive wealth management solutions provider.

Ultimately, OneDigitalTrust’s digital estate planning solution enables advisers to increase their value by streamlining the procedure, saving members and customers money, and guaranteeing safe and correct legacy records.

Financial advisors who leverage modern technology can establish themselves as trustworthy in the digital world as it rapidly evolves, creating new revenue sources and building stronger client relationships.

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!

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Digital Estate Planning Empowers Your Customers to Avoid These 3 Mistakes

Estate planning is a task easily set aside amid the demands of daily life. But life will indeed end, and your customers should have a proper estate plan in place. Even when their assets are modest and require a simple will, it is crucial for every working adult who would like to ensure what happens to their family and their assets after they’re gone.

Only about one-third of all Americans have created a formal estate plan. For the two-thirds who do not have one, that’s a serious problem for them and their families. It is also an opportunity for financial services providers, like wealth managers, financial advisors, credit unions and banks to step up with solutions that combine digital ease and personal touch to make estate planning accessible and affordable for everyone.

Your trusted relationship as a financial services provider gives you the perfect segue to help your customers and members avoid some estate planning mistakes that can cause their loved ones stress, conflict, expenses and other headaches down the road.

Here are three mistakes you can help your customers/members avoid:

1. Not Having an Estate Plan 

The biggest mistake – and most common – is doing nothing. About two-thirds of Americans do not have an estate plan, such as a will or trust. Without a legally valid estate plan, state intestacy laws require assets to be distributed by a probate court.

That costs time and money and heightens already frayed feelings. Family members and others with claims can tie things up over what others might consider surprisingly small amounts. Help your members and customers avoid that situation.

Also, not having a will can leave the court to decide about guardianship for minor children. A will or trust will establish the parents’ desires for who should continue caring for their children should they pass while the children are still minors.

2. Not Keeping Your Estate Plan Up-To-Date

Things happen. Customer and members’ life changes like marriage, divorce, new children and stepchildren, and changes in income and assets can change how a person wants their estate handled.

But wills are easy to set and forget, never revisited until it’s time for their execution. To ensure the plans are current, estate documents should be reviewed every couple of years or so and after significant life events.

A plan based on outdated wishes can lead to disputes between family members down the line. Offering estate planning documents that are easy to update will help keep your customers and members’ plans current and smooth out what could be a bumpy process.

3. Not Communicating the Estate Plan

Conversations about estates are always challenging, but they are ones we must encourage as responsible financial services providers. They are fraught with potential hard feelings about who gets what, of course, not to mention the difficulty of recognizing the eventual loss of a parent while both parent and child are very much alive. Not fun.

However, these conversations are essential for holistic financial wellness. Loved ones need to know what to do when that time comes. They should have access to critical documents and open conversations to avoid any confusion. That includes ensuring the documents remain up to date.

How Digital Estate Planning Can Create Winning Outcomes

As a trusted financial services provider, you can offer your customers and members digital estate planning solutions like OneDigitalTrust. We’ve built a robust platform that allows end users to create wills, trusts, power of attorney, healthcare directives and much more. Users truly appreciate the document tracking capabilities and digital vault for organizing the process and storing the documents.

Meanwhile, you are provided access to real-time, smart analytics to deepen relationships with customers and generate a new source of non-interest income. And because our platform is white labeled, you can offer it under your brand, and users know your organization is there to care for them and their families.

Many estate planning mistakes occur due to a lack of education and proper guidance, fear of acknowledging our human mortality, and consumers’ expectations of the cost of estate planning. OneDigitalTrust removes the lawyer from the equation, making creating legally valid estate planning documents much more affordable. We help you make it easy for the mass affluent to access compliant, responsible, plain-language estate planning. Integrating a trusted solution like OneDigitalTrust can help those who trust you achieve and maintain peace of mind around what can be such a sensitive and complicated subject, one all too easy to ignore otherwise.

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

Contact us today to learn more!

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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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Finding Opportunity in 2024’s Challenges to Non-Interest Income

Through years of falling interest rates that dramatically compressed net interest margins, credit unions and banks learned to lean into non-interest income to keep the balance sheet, well, balanced.

Debit and ATM transaction fees and overdraft and Not Sufficient Funds (NSF) charges have become particularly important, especially as account maintenance fees such as monthly service charges and minimum balance penalties have lost popularity for competitive reasons and consumer disdain.

Regulatory and legislative actions, however, could sharply impact that cash flow and strategy as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) moves forward on its proposal to eliminate so-called “junk fees,” which includes overdraft fees, and a bid to reduce interchange fees is before Congress again.

Meanwhile, the potential for predictable, stable, and increasing non-interest income (NII) continues to grow. In this regard, offering customers and members access to an enterprise-grade digital estate planning platform can serve both – promote personal financial wellness while also producing a remarkable, new NII revenue stream. 

But first, here’s a bit more on the regulatory and legislative front as 2024 begins to roll out.

CFPB and overdraft fees

The CFPB is expected to issue a final rule soon that could accelerate the decline of overdraft and NSF income, which are already about half of what they were industry-wide before the pandemic.

The new rule is expected to say that overdraft fees should be considered finance charges under Regulation Z. That could result in regulators such as the FDIC, OCC and NCUA tightening the rules on the number of times an overdraft or NSF transaction can occur and how much a bank or credit union can charge.

Recent fines totaling hundreds of millions of dollars against mega banks all the way down to smaller banks and credit unions for their NSF and overdraft protections also point to the need for diversifying non-interest income.

The interchange fee fight continues

Congress again has before it two bills aimed at lowering the interchange fees that banks, credit unions and the card processing networks share for their role in card transactions.

Proponents, led by retailers and consumer advocates, say the Debit Interchange and Price Competition Act and the Credit Card Competition Act would benefit consumers by allowing greater competition in the payment card network space.

Opponents, led by the financial services industry, say expecting any savings for consumers is unrealistic and that the changes would make it more difficult for issuers to fund rewards programs and for smaller issuers to offer credit cards at all.

This legislative tug-of-war has been going on for years, and whether these changes finally make it through either chamber, much less to the president’s desk, is an open question.

The bottom line about these possible changes is that credit unions and banks need to prepare for potential revenue loss by diversifying further with other fee-based services, especially those that may be less volatile in such a shifting legislative and regulatory landscape.

Diversify non-interest income with estate planning

Now is the time to consider offering digital estate planning documents through a turnkey platform for consumers’ holistic financial well-being, as well as your bank or credit union’s revenue diversification. It’s a win-win strategy for serving an aging population: Families get the peace of mind that comes with legally valid estate documents from a trusted provider, while the provider benefits from the recurring fee income and deeper customer and member engagement and loyalty.

Further, that demonstrated commitment to your customers’ financial well-being also opens the door for successfully offering asset protection, wealth management and other personalized, value-added solutions.

An ideal way to begin is with a white-label digital platform that meets the expectations of your most tech-savvy consumers without the integration and maintenance challenges of doing such work in-house. OneDigitalTrust’s platform also integrates directly into a financial institution’s digital banking platform, making access and usage even more seamless and easy for consumers.

The coming year could be a pivotal juncture for banks and credit unions regarding overdrafts, NSF fees and interchange income. Deploying seamlessly integrated digital will and trust services is a wise investment your institution can make in the growth and financial well-being of your business and, as crucially, that of the families and individuals you serve.

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, banks and financial advisors.

Contact us today to learn more!

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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!