The 80/20 Estate Plan™

A word from Al Gibbons on The 80/20 Estate Plan™

After I wrote an article for Best’s Review on “The 80/20 Estate Plan” in July, 1998, Peter W. Mattingly and Robert D. Shapiro wrote a wonderful article for the National Underwriter. They wrote about large life insurance companies going through the M & A (Merger and acquisition) process. The article blew me away! Multi-billion dollar deals between huge bureaucracies being done in 60 days. If they can do that, is there any excuse for our taking more than 60 days to get a single client planned and implemented?

80% of estate planning can be done in 20% of the time. The process can be and, in most cases, should be successfully completed in as little as sixty days. There are three key elements required for achieving outstanding estate planning results in a short time frame and managing expectations, simplifying the plan, and setting a target date for completion.

The first element is managing expectations. Clients and advisors need to know and accept the fact that perfection, at least in this life is unattainable. 80% of the planning can be completed in sixty days or less. Our clients will spend the rest of their lives working on the other 20%.

The second element is simplifying the plan and making it easy for the client to understand. Advisors must leave technical jargon for dealing with their colleagues and communicate clearly with their clients, thereby empowering their clients’ to make decisions. More often than not, the reason that plans are not implemented is that clients become overwhelmed and confused by the details and the complexity of the recommendations made by their advisors.

The third element is critical to the process but is often overlooked. The advisor and client must set a target date for completion of the planning process and for implementation of the plan. That is where most advisors stumble. Advisors should ask clients how long they want the estate planning process to take. It is unlikely a client will respond by saying 12, 18, 24 months. Clients do not want to spend their time attending numerous estate planning meetings. If advisors ask clients how long they want the estate planning process to take, the clients will almost always respond by saying 30, 60 or 90, days.

The steps in a successful estate planning process include getting the client’s agreement on how the planning process will be managed, assembling the estate planning team, orchestrating the initial meeting, agreeing on the overall direction of the plan, determining insurability, evaluating various planning alternatives, and implementing agreed upon recommendations.

Click here to view our Article, The 80/20 Estate Plan—A-Z in 60 Days.