Now more than ever, clients are looking to advisers to provide extra estate planning services such as will writing.

    As an acute public health crisis grips the world, with older generations among the most vulnerable groups, it's logical for many firms to feel now is the right time to seriously consider estate planning.

    Support services firm SimplyBiz has seen a big increase in demand from advisers during the lockdown for practical and communication skills training related to services such as will writing and estate planning.

    The firm reports the heightened demand comes chiefly from clients' shifting priorities during the coronavirus crisis.

    The potential market for estate planning is enormous.

    There have been many news stories over recent years highlighting how many people in the UK have no will in place.

    For example research from Co-op Legal Services, published in April, suggests as many as 73 per cent of UK adults haven't made a will. 

    While clearly it's a sensitive subject, advisers are well-placed to help clients with a series of different important aspects of the process.

    Estate planning spans a number of different areas – from writing wills and preparing lasting power of attorney (LPA) documents, to tax-efficient planning and funeral costs.

    This can be an emotional issue for clients. It is also unfortunately an area where vulnerable people can often be misled into buying products and services that are either woefully overpriced, or inappropriate.

    In the funeral planning market for instance, the government has taken extra steps to regulate the market against poor practice. Indeed, the Competition and Markets Authority is still in the process of investigating this market.

    Advisers can therefore provide a crucial service to clients that need it most.

    These processes are not just emotional for clients, but also administratively complex.

    Processes such as preparing an LPA come with reams of paperwork (an experience this writer can attest to, having prepared one with my mum some years ago).

    This alone can lead to people abandoning the process, so it's worth considering how you might be able to help take that administrative burden off a client’s shoulders.

    Yet as things stand, estate planning remains an untapped area for advisers.

    The research mentioned above by Co-op Legal Services also found that only one in 10 advisers is offering these kinds of services.

    This is despite more than half of those surveyed believing offering such services would make it easier to retain clients.

    The research found advisers were reluctant to enter this part of the planning market, in part due to the technical nature of the advice.

    But this is arguably a reason to commit to offering estate planning, rather than shying away from it.

    If not enough firms are doing it but the demand is there, there is an opportunity to offer a greater variety of services that a client may need.

    Investing in learning more about estate planning could be a powerful string to your bow at a time when your clients need it. 

    It is a tough conversation to have with clients, but a necessary one - and one which they’ll almost certainly be grateful for.

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