My duty of care is to talk to every client about their Estate Plan

Monday June 6th 2022

Cassandra Troy, Director Robins Financial Planning

I have been in the financial planning industry for over 30 years now. It was family circumstances that really got me into this industry. Mum died at 43 when I was just 15 years old and tragically, I saw firsthand what happens when you don’t plan for a health event, or premature death. This also drove me to ensure my daughter to have her first estate plan in place at the age of 18. It truly never is too early and for me it’s about being open to discuss your wishes with others so your family are left in no doubt if tragic circumstances should occur.

Having learnt from personal experience, at a very young age, has meant that I can have open, and sometimes frank, discussions with my clients about their wishes, and every aspect of their estate plan. I find that some clients can be quite teary during these discussions, it can be very emotional but I know how important it is, and a part of my duty of care, so I ask. The great thing is that once I know their wishes it helps with every other aspect of the financial planning process going forward.

I feel that I am in a very privileged position because I often have intimate knowledge regarding my clients, their goals and objectives, their health history, and sometimes family issues and concerns that are not often discussed outside the family.

When clients put their trust in me, I want to be sure that every aspect of their needs are considered. I do that by having a fantastic online estate planning tool called Yodal to facilitate the process that ensures nothing is missed. We are also able to ensure the client’s accountant and lawyer are a part of the process. It means that the client gets the very best possible outcome knowing there is open communication and collaboration between all of us and all scenarios are well considered.

The same outcome is not possible when someone uses an at home kit thinking that a Will is all that is required. Or, as often occurs, the complexity of their family situation, especially if there is a blended family or a second marriage, is overlooked.

My team swear by Yodal because it makes the entire estate planning process simple, and it gives our clients confidence because they too can log into Yodal and take charge of their future.

We can sit in front of the client (in person or online) and use Yodal to follow a clear framework that guides us to ensure all the questions that need to be asked, are asked, and that every aspect of an estate plan is covered. Team member, Holly knows the entire ‘ins and outs’ of Yodal, and I can rely on her to facilitate the whole process and ensure that our clients have an estate plan that meets their wishes.

We are also able to easily review these on a regular basis when we meet for annual reviews.

This is so critical as there have been many occasions where I have seen a poorly set up estate plan causing extreme stress to families, and I see it as my role to help avoid this where possible.

I had a friend whose father had a stroke in their 50’s and could only communicate through blinking. Unfortunately, he did not have an enduring power of attorney in place which meant his wife was unable to access financial accounts needed for medical costs. It was an additional burden on the family at a very emotional time. I am pleased that I was able to help, but all of this angst could have been avoided.

We need to openly talk about death. I do this myself, and I encourage my family, friends and clients to talk about their wishes if something should happen to them. Yes, it’s a hard subject to talk about but by doing so you become open to thinking about the ‘what ifs’ and taking action by preparing your Estate Plan. The wonderful thing is that once it’s done you have peace of mind.

For my clients, I never want them to experience a situation like my friend’s family had to go through when their father had a stroke. I make it a yearly process to check in with all my clients to see if anything needs to be changed or updated with their Will and Estate Plan.

Yodal really does make the whole process easy for us to facilitate the process of assisting clients to establish an appropriate Estate Plan.