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MADISON, Wis. – With an estimated personal net worth of Americans over age 50 topping the $15 trillion mark, credit unions may want to consider how they will market trust services to this group. The prospect of a large intergenerational transfer of wealth in the near future has indeed caught the attention of credit unions and banks. With the appropriate background information, credit unions can design marketing strategies and plans for trust services, which is the objective of a new study by the Filene Research Institute, “Inheritances: Who Expects to Leave Money to Heirs?” by Jinkook Lee and William Kelly. Data for the study was taken from several on-going projects sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the over-50 population through time. The authors found that a substantial number of people expect to leave a bequest of significant value – 68% are inclined to believe they will leave $10,000 or more and 62% are inclined to believe they will leave $100,000 or more. Among the over-50 population, study authors found that a substantial number of people expect to leave a bequest of significant value – 68% are inclined to believe they will leave $10,000 or more and 62% are inclined to believe they will leave $100,000 or more. The authors combined those who indicate a high probability (70%-99%) of leaving a bequest with those who are certain, and refer to this group as “probably” leaving a bequest. Under this definition they found that about three in five (63%) will “probably” leave a bequest of $10,000, and two in five will “probably” leave a $100,000 bequest. The likelihood and size of bequests are linked to income, financial assets, value of real estate owned, and net worth. “These findings imply that for most people over 50, planning for the transfer of assets and having a will is important. In many cases, they should consider establishing a trust,” said Bob Hoel, Filene executive director. “Establishing a will and a trust generally requires the services of an attorney. The credit union might suggest appropriate attorneys, arrange for classes for members on wills and trusts, and follow up with individual meetings. A copy of these documents could be placed in a safety deposit box in the credit union.” Providing a place in the credit union where an attorney could meet with members would also provide a more supportive and less intimidating environment than an attorney’s office, the report says. A credit union employee could assist members with follow-up as needed, such as changing beneficiary designations on life insurance and retirement plans to fit the needs of a trust. An effective marketing strategy for transfer-related services involves segmenting members based on economic and demographic characteristics, according to the report. The report also provides information to assist credit union marketers in designing services for different member segments and in developing effective marketing plans for each segment, including development of relationships with beneficiaries and with members planning to leave a bequest. [email protected]

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