For many advisors, estate planning is a bit of a dirty word. Not that it isn’t necessary, it just isn’t really their responsibility.
Scott Huff, a practicing registered investment advisor since 2001, sees this reticence as a major market inefficiency, which is why he created Yourefolio, a platform that seeks to digitize the nuts and bolts of the estate planning process and connect advisors with estate planning attorneys to carry the plans across the finish line.
“In the course of my business, I noticed a real disconnect for advisors and estate planning itself, and I just had one of those ‘ah ha!’ moments.” There’s just so little software that supports this very large industry. “There’s a lot of DIY stuff, but it just hasn’t really been touched on the professional end of things.” Huff says.
Where many existing technology solutions that touch estate planning fall under the broad category of “digital vaults” to help centralize, collate and secure a client’s estate planning information, Yourefolio has larger aspirations (though, yes, it has a vault as well).
Huff explains that “[b]ecause advisors are my natural fit, I wanted to build software similar to a MoneyGuidePro or eMoney that I could use for estate planning. Yourefolio functions very similarly to those platforms, except at the very end there’s that bridge you have to cross when legal documents
According to Huff, estate planning is one of the rare opportunities that necessarily involves multiple professionals. The majority of clients are already touched by a financial advisor, but that advisor needs help to properly craft and implement an estate plan. This collaboration requires that all involved tread the fine line of, “whose client is this?”
Yourefolio strives to make this often-awkward relationship as seamless as possible. “We partnered with a document drafting solution and a group of attorneys to fulfill that need for advisors, so now they can just click a button and be connected to an attorney,” Huff says. “And it’s a real engagement, it’s not a LegalZoom.com that just spits out a document. A real attorney comes in, and you get a client engagement letter signed, but you work with each other virtually through the software. It streamlines the process for both parties.”
Once an advisor works through the estate planning process to the point that an attorney is required, he can click a button to receive some referrals. “When the advisor hits the button, they’re provided with some basic information about three attorneys that are geographically near them, with some biographic, specialty and pricing info included, from which they select one.”
This list is populated first with attorneys who are Yourefolio subscribers (they pay the normal fee to use the software; the referral service itself is free). If the advisor doesn’t find a suitable match from the subscriber network, Yourefolio has a partnership with Interactive Legal, helmed by noted estate attorney Jonathan Blattmachr, to act as backup; they’ll draft the documents and offer advisors a wider network of attorneys to cover any unmet requests.
The Yourefolio subscriber base currently has over 100 legal firms on board, including some large organizations holding 40 to 50 licenses to the platform.
Huff said there’s been some reticence from old school attorneys to adopt a technological solution, so it’s currently advisors who are driving leads. His goal over the next year is to grow engagement overall, particularly among the attorneys, but as a product initially conceived by an advisor, for advisors, Huff is not concerned about any imbalance between requests and providers.
“It’s an advisor-driven software that gives the advisors the opportunity to stay involved in an estate plan. If you’re able to stay engaged in the process, you’ll be more connected to beneficiaries and the next generation, which will increase an advisor’s chances of retaining that wealth once the primary client passes.”