Why Estate Planning Is the Next Big Opportunity for Employee Benefits

Often-overlooked benefit can create a win-win for HR leaders, hiring managers, and underserved employees

Why Estate Planning Is the Next Big Opportunity for Employee Benefits

Whether you call it the Great Resignation, the Great Reshuffling, or the Great Re-assessment, it’s clear that millions of employees are rethinking their relationship with work and their employers are re-imagining how to better support their employees. Along with offering competitive pay and benefits packages, American employers are looking for new ways to support their employees as whole people – with support for their health and financial wellness to help their talent thrive as professionals and as human beings.

Our recent deep-dive into estate planning trends, ‘The State of Estate Planning Report,’ found that estate   planning is an often-overlooked benefit which could make a big difference in helping employers support their talent and earn their loyalty. Along with supporting people’s financial wellness with insurance, retirement savings contributions, and other financial benefits, we believe that estate planning is going to be the next big opportunity for companies to enhance their employee benefits. With estate planning as an employee benefit, HR leaders and hiring managers can have another valuable tool to show talent why your organization is a great place to build a career and create a brighter future.

Here’s why estate planning is the next must-have employee benefit.

Missing Link

An article in Harvard Business Review reveals that 80 per cent of employees would choose more benefits, if given an option, over an increase in pay. This makes it clear that benefits packages are every bit as important to employees as salaries. In a survey from Morgan Stanley, 90 per cent of respondents said they want their employer to make financial benefits a top priority.

With all the focus on financial-related benefits for employees, it’s surprising that so few companies currently offer estate planning as part of their benefits packages. The ‘State of Estate Planning Report’ also found that only 13 per cent of respondents are currently receiving estate planning services as an employer benefit. However, there is strong demand for estate planning: among the 87 per cent of respondents who are not getting this benefit at work, 72 per cent said that they would be interested in using estate planning services as an employee benefit if it were offered to them.

Clearly there is a gap in the market for employee benefits. Estate planning could be a strong differentiator to help recruit new hires and make your organization an employer of choice.

Estate planning services as an employee benefit could be as simple as helping people draft a will – that’s all that some employees need – or more elaborate ser- vices to help people get their financial affairs in order and secure their financial legacies for their loved ones. Estate planning is part of caring for employees and supporting their financial wellness throughout their entire careers and at all life stages.

And if you’re one of the few companies with estate planning on your list of benefits, you’ll get noticed. A wide- ranging package that includes various life stages tells employees that the company values them beyond just the day-to-day work product and looks at them as a whole person. If your HR team is trying to do more to show your people how you sup- port their wellness and financial security, offering estate planning is a natural fit to this overall package of benefits.

Must-Have Benefit

Offering estate planning is not just a way to attract the best candidates. It’s also a way to support financial wellness and protect the financial security of your employees throughout their lives. Just as your company provides health insurance to protect people from medical expenses, or provides disability and life insurance to protect people’s incomes and loved ones from worst-case scenarios, estate planning is another way to support your people’s financial wellness.

Why do people need estate planning? First of all, estate planning is not just for high net worth households. Almost anyone can benefit from writing a will or creating advance directives in case of incapacitation. A well-written estate plan can serve a variety of important purposes, such as protecting inheritances for children in the family, preventing conflicts among family members who might have to deal with lengthy probate battles, and providing clarity and peace of mind to loved ones by knowing that the big, complicated decisions are made and are legally binding.

Estate planning is especially important as a benefit for highly paid talent and senior executives, particularly if they receive stock options as part of their compensation. If your organization is a fast-growing startup that is on the verge of a lucrative IPO or acquisition, many of your employees might have newly created generational wealth that they want to responsibly manage and protect.

For all of these reasons, estate planning is an ideal fit for the traditional package of employee benefits. Along with supporting people’s immediate financial stability (with benefits such as health insurance) and long-term financial goals (such as saving for retirement), estate planning can show people that you support their financial security at all stages of life, including their family’s financial future.

Estate Planning as an Employee Benefit

Estate planning traditionally involves a variety of services and documents, including wills, trusts, beneficiary designations, powers of attorney, and more. By offering estate planning as an employee benefit, your organization can help employees more easily access a wide range of services, depending on what they need.

Estate planning as an employee benefit might include:

•            Offering a list of preferred estate planning attorneys who agree to offer a discount to your company’s employees

•            Giving employees an initial meeting with an estate planning advisor for counseling – either for no charge or a small co-pay

•            Offering free estate planning group information sessions at work

•            Providing a few hours of free legal advice to help people write a will, set up a trust, or create an estate plan

•            Offering a more elaborate package of estate planning services

To offer estate planning as a benefit, your organization might need a comprehensive solution for feasibly delivering your preferred range of services at scale to employees. Instead of cobbling together a system of arranging attorney consultations and informational sessions, your company could partner with a third-party service provider or offer access to a digital plat- form for estate planning.

As companies look to make a more compelling offer to job candidates, and try harder to retain employees, it seems likely that estate planning is going to become a must-have benefit. In the same way that your organization supports employees with essential services like health insurance, you can make estate planning part of the conversation for how to help people maximize their financial security. Your company helps employees build wealth; now help them protect it. Estate planning as a benefit can help secure your employees’ financial legacies.

Rafael Loureiro is the CEO of Wealth, a startup on a mission to modernize estate planning.