Transamerica's Guide to Estate Planning


Why It Matters:
  • Estate planning is an important piece in a client’s financial puzzle.
  • Having the estate planning talk can strengthen client relationships and create new clients.
  • Making clients aware of potential funeral costs can lead to deeper conversations around financial strategies to help a client’s loved ones pay for final expenses.

Most people know the old adage “you can’t take it with you.” Yet according to a new survey by, only 42% of U.S. adults have estate planning documents such as a will or living trust.

Be prepared

You probably already know your clients’ personal and financial histories. But understanding their wishes for their estate — regardless of the size — can help ensure they have all of their financial bases covered. Plus, when the time comes, knowing you’ve addressed clients’ final wishes can help their loved ones focus on the emotional aspect of the mourning process and skip the financial stress associated with their loss.

It’s no secret that funerals can be an expensive undertaking. According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the national median cost of a funeral in 2017 was $8,755. If your client doesn’t have enough assets or some form of life insurance such as whole, universal, term, or final expense, the client’s family may have to withdraw from their savings or sell precious assets to help give a loved one a proper burial or memorial service. Estate planning and being aware of a client’s final wishes can help mitigate this financial burden.

Don’t put it off

Understanding clients’ final wishes is an important piece of their financial puzzle. It can help strengthen your relationship with the client and possibly create new clients from within the client’s family.

For many, talking about one’s own mortality is never an easy conversation, but it’s a necessary one. Younger clients may be more focused on college planning and retirement. But converting them from advisory clients to estate planning clients can be worthwhile for proactive financial professionals. (Here are five ways to get clients to start thinking about estate planning.)

Your role

Whether you’re just starting out or a longtime veteran, every financial professional has a different level of experience and comfort with estate planning. But unless you’re also a trained estate lawyer, your goals should simply be to help your client understand the basics of estate planning, apply them to the financial planning process, and prepare them for what to expect when meeting with an experienced attorney.

It’s likely your clients will look to you for an estate lawyer referral. Hopefully you have a few trusted colleagues in your network so you can coordinate efforts and work together to do what’s best for your clients. If not, you may want to consider reaching out to form a working relationship with a trusted estate planning attorney. Either way, it’s important to work with your client’s lawyer to make sure all parties are on the same page and pointed toward the same goals.

Start planning today

After all, your clients are expecting their assets to grow over time. But the risk of death or incapacity also grows as they get older. The passing of time makes each year more important than the previous one to get your clients’ estate planning ducks in a row. Also, as families grow and change, it’s important to check in on a regular basis to ensure a client’s wishes or needs haven’t changed.

Make this the year you get all of your clients’ final wishes known and planned for accordingly. For more information on creating a comprehensive estate plan for your clients, download our free guide.

Things to Consider:
  • Have the tough discussion with clients about their final wishes for their estate sooner than later.
  • Make sure you have a trusted estate attorney you can refer clients to and who will work with you.
  • Make sure clients have enough insurance or resources to help pay for funeral expenses and care for loved ones.
  • If clients are starting to prepare, this article from Everplans, A Practical Guide to Pre-Planning Your Funeral, can help them keep track of important tasks.

Neither Transamerica nor its agents or representatives may provide tax, investment, or legal advice. Anyone to whom this material is promoted, marketed, or recommended should consult with and rely on their own independent tax and legal advisors and financial professional regarding their particular situation and the concepts presented herein.