Click here to find more from the 2018 Annual Meeting
My expertise is in retirement income planning. And I can tell you that the number one fear that clients have as they approach retirement is running out of money.
Even when your estate planning recommendations offer substantial benefits to your clients, it can be hard for them to act on your wise counsel if they are unclear about whether or not they are going to be have enough money to last for the length of their retirement.
Often, we need to deal with clients’ retirement income objectives first before they will give proper consideration to their estate planning needs.
I use financial planning software to project clients’ incomes, net worth, and tax liabilities, year by year, for the rest of their lives.
There are two crucial elements. The first one, and this is vital, is to show clients what they can expect financially in retirement. It’s hard to get clients to commit to an additional insurance premium if they are worried about whether they can afford it.
The second crucial step is to show them what happens if they fail to take action.
Often the price of success is taxes. There are only four ways to pay the sometimes hefty tax bill that can be triggered on death.
The first way is to start saving now, but that is assuming you live long enough to accumulate the additional money to pay the bill.
Alternatively, your estate can sell assets upon death, but that is assuming that there is liquidity in the estate and that it’s not an asset you want to keep in the family.
Perhaps your executors may be able to borrow to pay the tax bill, but that is assuming someone will give them a loan, and it will incur interest expense.
Or the fourth way, often the best way, is to use an insurance strategy and pay pennies on the dollar. And you can get tax-sheltered growth and a tax-free transfer to the ones you care most about. Of the four ways to pay, an insurance strategy is going to be the most predictable and most efficient method to achieve the intended result.
I will show clients the net present value of these four options. Mathematically, the choice is clear. With insurance, you are paying pennies for dollars.
I like to remind people that doing nothing at all is still a plan. Where I come from, that could be a plan to perhaps lose almost 50 percent of your investable assets to taxes.
Most clients would rather give the money that they spent their lifetimes working hard for to the people and charities that they care about than to see large chunks of their family fortune lost to taxes. So let’s do something about it.
Brad Brain, CFP, CLU, is a nine-year MDRT member with five Court of the Table honors. He is an award-winning author who is nationally recognized for expertise in retirement income planning. He is a member of the Insurance Council of British Columbia, the regulator of insurance activities for the province. He has appeared as an expert witness on poverty reduction strategies for the Parliament of Canada.