As a life insurance agent or finance professional, you speak with your clients about very sensitive matters. In today’s society, people are often reluctant to speak about personal finances even with close family members. Young and middle-aged people tend to avoid the subject of death. Yet discussion of both subjects is essential to creating an estate plan.
By virtue of your profession, you may be in an ideal position to bring up estate planning. Advise your clients to create an estate plan if any of the following applies to them.
One important aspect of a comprehensive estate plan is a trust. A trust is similar to a will in that it provides for distribution of your assets upon your death.
However, in many cases, a trust provides advantages over a will. Wills often lead to probate, a procedure that can entail expenses, delays and public release of information — all of which trusts can help you avoid. In larger estates, there may be tax advantages as well.
Power of attorney is an important aspect of estate planning, particularly for business owners. A POA allows you to designate others to make decisions if you are unable to make them yourself. You may name one person to handle management decisions, another to make financial choices and yet another to deal with property matters.
Moreover, you can limit each agent’s power. If you travel abroad, you may even create a POA to cover your absence for a specified period of time.
Even small estates may benefit from trusts. Some family situations are too complex for a basic life insurance policy or will. Examples include blended families or children with special needs.
Estate plans can also include living wills, sometimes called advance directives or healthcare directives, which are a specific type of POA. A living will specifies what should happen in the event of terminal illness or permanent unconsciousness. Stipulations address such things as life support measures, pain management, and organ transplants. They are particularly useful if your religious or spiritual beliefs run contrary to popular public sentiment.