Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples: Addressing Unique Challenges and Leveraging Digital Tools

Estate planning is a critical piece of the puzzle for anyone leaving a financial legacy, but same-sex couples can face unique questions and challenges.

That’s because while same-sex marriage is now widely legally recognized, couples can still encounter hurdles that can complicate estate planning. Financial advisors at trusted institutions such as credit unions and community banks are in a great position to help.

While it’s always the right time to build relationships that benefit both clients and providers, Pride Month is an excellent time to examine how trusted advisors can help meet the unique circumstances that committed same-sex couples—legally married or not—might encounter.

These can include:

Legal Variability: Despite federal recognition, state laws can differ significantly, impacting inheritance rights and spousal benefits.

Family Dynamics: Same-sex couples might face resistance or complications from family members who may not recognize their relationship, leading to potential disputes over assets.

Parental Rights: Establishing and maintaining parental rights can be more complex for couples with children.

Health-Care Directives: Ensuring that medical decisions are honored often requires clear, legally binding health-care directives, which can be particularly crucial in jurisdictions less supportive than others of same-sex relationships.

While everyone’s situation is unique, and there are limits to what a financial advisor can do to address matters beyond finances, there are some very good ways to help provide peace of mind to same-sex couples regarding their estate planning.

The Necessity of Wills and Trusts

To protect their rights and ensure their wishes are honored, same-sex couples should prioritize creating wills and trusts. Here’s why these documents are indispensable:

Wills: A will ensures that assets are distributed according to the will creator’s wishes, reducing the risk of disputes and helping to ensure that partners and non-biological children receive their intended inheritance.

Trusts: Trusts offer additional benefits such as avoiding probate, maintaining privacy, and providing for complex family situations, such as ensuring ongoing care for a partner or children.

Power of Attorney: Establishing power of attorney is critical for managing financial and healthcare matters, particularly in emergencies where one partner may be incapacitated.

DIY Estate Planning Tools: Empowerment and Efficiency

Naturally, many couples are interested in using the internet first. A feature-rich online estate planning solution allows clients to do what they want independently. At the same time, you stand ready to provide individualized, in-person assistance whenever they need it.

This dual approach begins with powerful, sophisticated, and user-friendly estate planning tools like those from OneDigitalTrust. The platform’s features include:

User-Friendly Interface: Clients can easily navigate the process of creating wills, trusts, and other essential documents.

OneDigitalTrust allows LGBTQ+ users to:

  • Choose a marital status specific to their state, including registered domestic partners, civil union or legally married under state laws

  • The platform notifies users of elective share information that may apply per state-specific laws on minimum inheritance requirements including relevancy to same-sex couples

  • Accurately reflect gender pronouns for people in the system designated as “non-binary”

Comprehensive Support: Advisors can assist clients at any stage, from initial planning to finalizing documents, helping to ensure that all legal requirements are met.

White-Label Solutions: Financial institutions and advisors can customize the platform to reflect their branding, reinforcing their role as trusted advisors.

Securing Their Legacy While Growing Your Bottom Line

Careful estate planning, including airtight legal documentation, is crucial for all couples to ensure that rights are protected and wishes are honored.

Digital platforms like OneDigitalTrust not only simplify the process, including for same-sex couples’ challenges, but also enhance the client-advisor relationship by offering accessible, efficient, and comprehensive solutions.

Financial advisors who embrace these tools can better serve all their clients, helping them meet the desire to financially protect and support loved ones that is common to all of us regardless of sexual orientation, racial identification, religious affiliation, or any other demographic.

OneDigitalTrust’s technology achieves this while also giving your organization a double bottom line: you’re helping your clients secure the execution of their final wishes while generating a reliable flow of fee income for your organization.

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!


Optimizing Probate: Empower Your Clients with Digital Estate Planning

Probate. The word evokes visions of drawn-out legal proceedings, piles of paperwork, and needless stress for families going through a trying period. Financial services partners recognize the value of guiding clients through challenging financial circumstances. For loved ones, optimizing the probate process can be a game-changer when it comes to estate planning.

Digital estate planning offers game-changing services for customers and members, as well as business opportunities for your organization. Using cutting-edge technology, providers can offer clients and members a comprehensive solution that expedites the probate process, reduces expenses and guarantees a more seamless inheritance experience for their beneficiaries. You can be their hero in a time of need.

Why Is Optimizing Probate Important?

The traditional probate process can be a significant burden on families. Here are some key challenges:

  • Time: Probate can take months, sometimes years, to complete, leaving beneficiaries waiting to access their inheritance.
  • Cost: Attorney and court fees and other associated costs can significantly erode the estate’s value.
  • Complexity: Navigating the legalities of probate can be overwhelming for beneficiaries unfamiliar with the intricacies.
  • Stress: Dealing with probate on top of grieving a loved one’s loss creates immense emotional strain.

By optimizing probate, you can help your clients mitigate these challenges. Digital technology provides the optimal route for doing that.

How Digital Estate Planning Optimizes Probate

OneDigitalTrust offers a secure, user-friendly platform that simplifies estate planning and streamlines the probate process. This capability can be significant to your clients as they’re working out their estate plans and looking to protect their assets for their beneficiaries. Here’s how it can help:

  • Centralized Organization: Users can arrange all their assets, beneficiary designations and other important information in one location using our safe and secure platform. This guarantees that beneficiaries know precisely where to get what they need and eliminates the needless and time-consuming hunt for documentation.
  • Asset Inventory & Distribution: Our solution securely warehouses that thorough list as users add all their assets and liabilities. The streamlined identification and distribution notations save beneficiaries time and frustration.
  • Educational Materials: In the right-hand column, OneDigitalTrust provides insightful and actionable educational materials to help users make decisions about their assets. Additionally, it offers quizzes to test users’ knowledge.
  • Options for Handling Assets in OneDigitalTrust Estate Planning –
    • Assigning Beneficiaries: When the user assigns beneficiaries to their assets, probate is eliminated. The platform will show the funds that bypass probate, what the estate could owe in probate and how long probate could take. The dollar amounts and length of time both get smaller the more assets are assigned to beneficiaries.
    • Joint Accounts: When a couple or two other people hold an account jointly with a right of survivorship, it automatically passes to the joint account holder upon the other’s passing.
    • Pay on Death/Transfer on Death: The user can tell the bank or other steward of their assets that the account is to go to a particular person upon the account holder’s death.
  • Possibility of Family Conflict: The user can choose the probability of a family member(s) fighting for a share of the assets. This can also be factored into the probate costs and time involved inside the platform.

Once you’ve optimized your probate exposure enough, the estate may qualify for a fast-track probate, which can be just a couple of days. Each state is different, so users should ensure they know their state’s laws, rules and regulations involving probate.

Benefits for Financial Services Professionals

Offering digital estate planning services creates a competitive advantage for your firm or financial institution by enhancing your value proposition in three ways:

  • Stronger Client Relationships: Digital estate planning demonstrates your commitment to providing holistic wealth management solutions that address your clients’ long-term needs. This fosters more profound, loyal client relationships built on trust and personalized service.
  • Expanded Service Offerings: By incorporating digital estate planning into your existing portfolio, you can offer a comprehensive suite of services that caters to your clients’ evolving needs throughout their lives.
  • Differentiating Your Financial Advisory or Financial Institution: Digital estate planning is growing. Integrating this service positions your organization as a forward-thinking institution that prioritizes the financial well-being of its members and clients across generations.

Leading-edge digital estate planning services like OneDigitalTrust enable you to provide your clients with an effective solution for optimizing the probate process. Minimizing complexities and reducing costs helps the families you serve navigate a challenging time with greater clarity and peace of mind.

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!


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!


Break the Habit: Digital Estate Planning as an Essential Tool and Differentiator

The time and complexities involved in providing estate planning have long made it an outlier as a service. Investment advisors and wealth managers at traditional credit unions, banks, insurers and other financial services providers have been relegated to the sidelines as they refer their clients, customers and members to attorneys, as is the typical practice.

That practice, however, is changing as financial services continue to rapidly evolve in the digital world. Your organization will no longer have to pass your consumers—as well as the income they can generate—on to lawyers, keeping you from deepening those relationships.

Virtual estate planning platforms have been hard at work, developing their digital muscles, eradicating the need for attorneys, and even in-person servicing if an individual chooses. Empower your firm to break the habit of making third-party referrals and to deepen the personal touch and value they build with their clients, helping those they serve to navigate their financial lives and plan their legacies more holistically.

A Hybrid Advisor-Client Experience

“A streamlined digital estate planning platform delivered as a hybrid advisor-client experience provides a unique opportunity for advisors to expand their service model, amplify relationship alpha, power retention, and create advisory pathways to the next generation of clients,” a new report from Javelin Advisory Services reads.

Titled “Digital Estate Planning: A New Frontier for RIAs,” the think tank’s report focuses on the power of digitizing the creation and storage of relatively simple but vitally important documents such as wills, revocable trusts, and medical directives. It cites OneDigitalTrust as a leader in creating that new nexus of advancing fintech innovation and growing advisor value, as shown in the illustration below.

Javelin Research found OneDigitalTrust to provide advisors innovation and value.

The Relationship Alpha for The Next Aging Generation

Millennials have surpassed baby boomers as the largest generation in the United States. Those 20-somethings to 40-somethings are digital natives. They’re accustomed to living online – including working, shopping, learning, and banking – but they’re still real, live human beings, naturally, who can benefit from professional guidance and advice through their journeys.

Along with traditional matters such as raising families, forging and maintaining careers, caring for aging relatives, and the vicissitudes of aging, they also find themselves with their own unique set of stressors, as the Javelin report astutely illustrates in this figure below.

Platforms like OneDigitalTrust help to calm financial services providers clients' anxiety, Javelin found.

The “Demographics” section in the above figure includes “increased personal wealth,” among other factors that present an opportunity to RIAs and other financial services providers who can most seamlessly and effectively combine high-tech and high touch for this cohort of adult Americans.

As the report observes, all these factors imply that scaled delivery of personalized solutions points to demand for an enhanced user experience. Digital estate planning combined with direct conversations with clients about this particularly weighty topic helps cement that relationship with the client and potentially with the other stakeholders in the next generation, especially if they, too, join the discussions.

Ultimately, it’s about the effectiveness of advisor-client communication, a significant currency that makes financial advisors more than order-takers in a digital world of cookie-cutter, low- or no-cost options. That’s not a recipe for long-term success.

“The legacy [estate-planning] conversation is emotional, often covering philanthropic and generational aspirations,” the Javelin report observes. It points to this empowering feature in our platform: “OneDigitalTrust, for example, creates a client area where notes can be appended to the system, allowing the client to memorialize and express those aspirations and sentiments for advisors, kids and other beneficiaries.”

Differentiation and Commoditization

That vital communication feature – among others – helps OneDigitalTrust continue to push out the leading edge of humanizing digital estate planning and, most critically, the ability for advisors to differentiate themselves in the uber-competitive fintech world.

OneDigitalTrust, as the Javelin report observes, is also out front with integrating personal financial data into its platforms. That gives financial services providers the ability to wade through multi-party, multi-platform morass to add even more value.

Financial services providers are keenly aware of the commoditization of their products and services and the need to differentiate. A robust foundation for that is personal service that uses digital products to help leverage meaningful conversations around the unique access financial planners have to their clients’ assets.

That conversation should include how to distribute those assets when the time comes without sending that part of the business elsewhere. “Advisors must consider expanding their business model by leveraging digital estate planning solutions,” the Javelin report concludes. “New channels of dialogue are opened with beneficiaries and family members who can become clients and advocate for the advisor’s expertise.”

And that helps the advisor and their employer build their value and legacy.

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!


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!