For those of you who have already completed our Foundations WorkshopTM and those who have yet to take the leap and join Client Care Academy, we wanted to take a minute to address “funding”, or as we call it in our firm, asset alignment. We have found this to be the greatest challenge for firms once they begin the journey of establishing and maintaining a successful ongoing client care program.
First let’s address the difference between funding and asset alignment. Typically, when people talk about funding they are talking about a very transactional model, you do it once and it’s done. Funding is viewed as arduous, time consuming and not profitable. In fact, most firms either do not deal with assets or simply leave retitling of assets up to the client. In either scenario, assets are not retitled initially and are not aligned with the estate plan years later when someone dies. This results in an estate plan not working as intended and clearly not taking care of the family.
At Client Care Academy, and in our own firm, we have moved away from using the term funding to differentiate not only the upfront work needed, but to use terms consistent with the results clients want. Asset alignment is ongoing, creating a relationship. From the moment a client walks in to the moment the door is closed on trust administration, asset alignment is an ongoing process.
Why do we focus our estate planning process on assets? Knowing what assets a client owns at the time of death is the most important part of the estate planning process. We need to know what they own, who controls and has access at death, who will ultimately receive it and how, and what the value is. So why in the world would we not make our primary focus in estate planning the assets?
It can take a bit of work to wrap your mind around how to handle assets in your ongoing client care program, as you shift from a transactional estate planning mindset to a relationship-based estate planning process designed to take care of families during life, at the time they are disabled, and after death. How assets are owned and controlled is the lynchpin in estate planning and determines whether a or not an estate plan works and if the family is taken care of.
Upfront asset alignment, traditionally called funding, if done correctly can make your ongoing client care program more efficient, streamlined, and profitable. Ultimately, asset ownership is everything when it comes to upholding your promises to clients to take care of their families at death or incapacitation.
We’ve all had that moment when after someone dies, we are not sure of what they own, not clear who the beneficiary of an asset is, are surprised by new assets that were purchased, or find that assets that were originally in the trust are no longer owned by the trust. In addition, we are also aggravated when an institution delays processing claims, freezes accounts or can’t find the beneficiary designation the client sent to them. Everyone is frustrated because the client’s wishes are clear, but the institution will only follow their arbitrary procedures or go with what they have on record. Having a system for verifying asset alignment during a client’s life can eradicate frustrating moments like these, saving money, frustration and costs for the family as well as time and hassle for your firm.
Maybe your firm has been hesitant to handle trust administration in house because you find this process maddening and unprofitable, or maybe you do handle it in house and are aggravated and losing money. We have found this doesn’t have to be the case. When someone’s assets are simple, and fully aligned with their estate plan, trust administration is smooth and profitable. Having systems in place to deal with asset alignment allows you to fully take care of families and substantially increase the profitability of your own firm.
We have developed a process for ongoing asset alignment called SAVeTTM, simplify/consolidate, align, verify, and track. Our firm no longer views funding as a one-and-done step in our estate planning process. Asset Alignment has a continuous flow, from the time we meet our clients until trust administration is complete, ensuring our clients are taken care. At the same time, our profitability has increased.
The revolutionary SAVeTTM Process has been conceived and refined in our firm, Family Estate Planning Law Group. We continue to improve it and want to share our success with you through our new SAVeTTM Workshop. We are offering this workshop in September to help you clear the “funding” hurdle and increase your profitability while alleviating frustration. This is an optional precursor for new CCA members to give you a head start on your client care program journey and is also open to CCA alum who are struggling with the asset alignment process.
Funding is dead and losing you money. SAVeTTM with us today!
Going to Wealth Counsel’s Symposium next week? Catch our seminars on Funding is Dead and Leadership Through Empowerment and visit our booth! Register here and add us to your agenda.