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With increased interest in estate planning, here are ways to connect with clients on this important subject.

Attorney Tara Mattessich
Tara Mattessich, attorney with Larkin Hoffman Attorneys

While estate planning and planned giving may seem like tough topics to broach with clients, now may be just the time to bring them up.

In her estate and trust group practice with Larkin Hoffman Attorneys, Tara Mattessich, J.D., said she has seen increased interest in estate planning during the pandemic.

“I know a number of clients who had let it go to the back burner,” she said. “People seem to have more time on their hands, so this is a good time to do it."

People are focused on wills, revocable trusts, powers of attorney and health care directives, she said. “It gives them some peace of mind to know that the documents are done.”

Clients are also asking about charitable planning, Tara said.

“I think people want to give back, so we've had a number of discussions with clients about the best way to make charitable gifts through their estate plans.”

Nine Tips for Planned Giving Conversations During the Pandemic

Dana Holt, owner of HOLT Consulting, LLC, and a strategic consultant for the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation, offers nine tips for connecting with clients around planned giving:

  1. Create and follow a communications plan. It is important that clients hear from you. They want presence, consistency and to know the good work you are doing.
  1. Take an empathetic approach. Acknowledge upfront that the pandemic is changing lives, economic realities and the future.
  1. At the same time, do not dwell on the pandemic. Your job isn’t to provide COVID-19 updates, but instead to focus on your mission and how you can help clients.
  1. Nurture personal connections. Many people value relationships more than ever. While in-person visits may not be possible, try phone calls or personal videos. You could even coach a client on doing video calls.
  1. Be willing to lend an ear as clients could be emotional at times.
  1. Use care in raising end-of-life issues while remaining open if clients want to go there.
  1. Let your clients’ interests drive your conversations. Remember that planned giving is about giving over a lifetime — in the shorter term through end-of-life.
  1. Don’t assume the pandemic is affecting everyone’s ability to give back. While some clients may pull back on giving, others may be more interested in giving than ever. Retirees who are on a full or partially fixed income are less dependent on the stock market and may be in a good place to give.
  1. Reach out to a local community foundation like the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation as a resource. Our gift planners will work with you, your clients or all of you together to explore planned giving options.

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