Estate Planning: An Intimate Conversation Between Financial Professional & Client

Headshot of Sean Meighan

Sean Meighan, Head of Advisory Services

October 2, 2022

The estate planning process involves some of the most intimate conversations a financial professional will have with a client.


Work and life have a funny way of intersecting at times. Unfortunately, I’m writing this column from the emergency room at Portsmouth Regional Hospital as a patient.

I had planned to write an article about a completely different topic tonight from the comfort of my living room couch, but my appendix apparently had other ideas. My day started with a sunrise mountain bike ride through the woods on a beautiful New Hampshire morning. Fast-forward eight hours, and I’m now holding discharge paperwork from urgent care that says, “Patient’s condition has a high probability of morbidity if left untreated.” Off to the emergency room we went.

An eye-opening life experience
Why am I telling all of you this? Because while I was going through the hospital’s admission process, I was asked for the first time in my life, “Do you have a durable power of attorney for health care decisions appointed?” It’s an incredibly sobering question. Said another way, “If this incredibly routine removal of your appendix doesn’t go as planned, and it’s not clear if you’re going to survive, who do you want making the decisions about how you will, or will not, live out the upcoming days/weeks/months/years?” If you’re wondering, it’s my wife, not because she’s my wife, but because I know she loves me and would place a pillow over my face before letting me suffer a day of irreversible incapacitation. In the event something horrible happens to my wife and me at the same time, my father is second in line because I’d trust him to follow my wishes, even though it would devastate him.

My mother, whom I love more than anything in the world, isn’t on the list. I know she’d never be able to pull the plug. Not where you thought I was going to take this article, huh?

Outside of the names previously mentioned, until writing this column, the only people who knew this tidbit of information were my financial professional and the estate attorney he used to create our plan. About five years ago, right after my wife and I got married, he sat us down, convinced me to get so much life insurance that I slept with one eye open for the next year, and walked us down the hall to an estate attorney to whom he referred basic planning cases. If we hadn’t created the estate planning documents, there would have been no legal words tying that life insurance money to actions and outcomes. The downside was that this basic estate plan set us back $2,800. We needed to do it but cutting such a big check for a stack of notarized paper hurt a little.

Be in the room for meaningful conversations
The estate planning process involves some of the most intimate conversations a financial professional will have with a client. Yet historically, you haven’t been in the room for them and are dependent on a third party to provide the services.

Have you made estate planning part of your client experience?
If not, I’d love to tell you all about our relationship with Trust & Will, the leading digital estate planning platform, which places financial professionals in the Atria family at the center of the estate planning conversation with clients — at less than 25% of the cost my wife and I had to pay!

Click here to learn more about the holistic life planning solutions we offer to financial professionals throughout the Atria family.