Amjad Hussain

Amjad Hussain

Chief Technology Officer

Amjad has over 20 years of experience building high performing teams, delivering industry impacting products, and raising the bar on engineering and operational excellence. He joined Vanilla as Chief Technology Officer after seven years at Amazon Web Services, where he held multiple engineering and product leadership roles across multiple services including AWS CloudFormation and AWS Systems Manager. Before AWS, Amjad spent over 12 years in various leadership roles at Microsoft.

Blogs

Blog

Rachel Pettis

Apr 16, 2024

What’s New in Vanilla: New features for April 2024

Spring (and Legacy Now) is in the air! April is showering Vanilla with multiple new features, enabling our customers to: Expedite document reviews in Vanilla Estate Builder with smart suggestions powered by VAI™ and additional customization with Advanced Distributions Show the potential future impact of layering on a SLAT or GRAT with Vanilla Scenarios™ Invite clients to engage an estate attorney in certain states when completing their documents with Vanilla Document Builder Include the cost of Vanilla Document Builder in your firm’s fee structure with a Charge Me option Add your firm’s custom compliance disclosures to the Vanilla PDF report...

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Apr 15, 2024

Section 6166: How You Can Defer Estate Tax

Do you have clients who own a business or have just recently inherited one? When it comes to estate planning for business owners, understanding section 6166 of the US tax code could make a big difference in ensuring continuity of the business after the owner passes away. While there are several estate planning strategies that can help clients reduce their overall estate tax bill, those who own a business should also be aware of strategies to defer payments on estate taxes to keep their heirs from having to do a fire sale of the business just to pay taxes. So...

News Entry

Financial Planning

Apr 11, 2024

To be indispensable, advisors must expand their estate planning playbook

In my 30-plus years of experience as an financial advisor, I’ve delivered impactful service not by simply focusing on maximizing investment performance, but by considering approaches that improve and protect the well-being of my clients and their families on a more human level.   My most important objectives as an advisor are ensuring that my clients sleep well at night, safe in the knowledge they are in good hands; helping them to meet their financial goals; and ensuring their experience is such that they can wholeheartedly say they are glad they met us. Advisors who want to ensure that those...

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Apr 04, 2024

Schedule K-1 Forms: Managing Your Client’s Estate Income

When helping clients with their estate plan, taxes are one of the key components to take into account as part of the planning process. And while there are several estate planning strategies that can be used to minimize or eliminate estate taxes for clients, here we’ll talk specifically about taxes that an estate or a trust incurs on its income. One of the forms that clients should be familiar with if they are trustees, administrators, or beneficiaries of an estate or a trust is schedule K-1. Since there are a few different types of K-1 forms, it’s important to understand...

Blog

Madison Eubanks

Apr 02, 2024

Letter of Testamentary: What It Is & Why You Need It

Creating a last will and testament is one of the most fundamental efforts in estate planning, and a key component is naming an executor to carry out the will’s instructions. The executor is the person who will administer the estate, sees it through the probate process, and settles the decedent’s final affairs—in short, it’s a big responsibility.  Before the executor can begin administering a deceased person’s estate, though, the executor needs to obtain a Letter of Testamentary (also called letters testamentary). In this article, we’ll explain what a letter of testamentary is, why you might need one, how to get...

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Mar 28, 2024

Should you use a transfer on death account (TOD)?

When it comes to estate planning, each individual’s needs dictate the simplicity or complexity of the solution that will best fit their goals. For those who care about avoiding probate, ease of distribution to beneficiaries, and simplicity of set-up, a transfer on death (TOD) account could be a great option.  A TOD account provides a simple way to transfer assets to beneficiaries without the need for complex legal structures like trusts. Here, we’ll explain what a TOD account is, its main benefits and drawbacks, and how it can be used as part of an estate plan to transfer wealth quickly...

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Mar 26, 2024

How AI Can Be Used in Your Law Firm

For busy attorneys, finding ways to boost efficiency can elevate client service and free up more hours in your day—and leaning on carefully chosen tools may help you achieve that. With the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and its practical uses in improving efficiency across so many industries, you may be wondering how—if at all—you might use it in your law practice.  From removing tedious administrative tasks to speeding up case analysis and research, the latest AI technologies present many opportunities to help solo practitioners and large law firms maximize productivity while improving client outcomes. The use of AI in...

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Mar 21, 2024

Popular Software for Law Firms in 2024

As a legal professional, incorporating specialized software for lawyers into your practice can help you save countless hours and improve productivity, all while providing better service to your clients. Finding the right legal industry software can free you from routine tasks so you can spend more time on the most essential work that only you can do. Plus, many software solutions can take some of the weight off the shoulders of your assistants and paralegals, improving efficiency and productivity in your firm. Software for law firms comes in many categories.  To help you gain a better idea of how legal...

Blog

Rachel Pettis

Mar 19, 2024

Vanilla’s new features for March – Introducing Vanilla Scenarios & an upgraded Estate...

March feature madness is in full swing here at Vanilla with new releases and an exciting launch last week! Here's what we're most excited about this month: Introducing Vanilla Scenarios™ An upgraded client Estate Profile Model the future impact of planning with Vanilla Scenarios™ Currently in the Vanilla platform, advisors, planners, and attorneys can use our recently enhanced projections feature to visualize a client’s current estate at a future point in time, like the 2026 Sunset. With Vanilla Scenarios™, rolling out over the coming months, wealth advisors will be able to model the future impact of advanced planning on top...

Webinar

Vanilla

Mar 19, 2024

Legacy Now Spring 2024

In this Spring’s Legacy Now, we’ve packed an entire summit’s worth of thought-leadership content into just 1.5 hours — so even the busiest professionals will be able to attend and come away with high-impact, actionable insights. For the first time, we’ll be showcasing three different panels with subject matter experts, highlighting key learnings in different arenas of finance and estate planning, including: Panel 1: Innovative approaches to opening doors to new and 2nd-gen clients Panel 2: Scaling estate planning to every advisor in the org Panel 3: How T&E attorneys are ramping up for the 2026 exemption sunset You’ll hear...

Blog

Madison Eubanks

Mar 19, 2024

Practical Advice for Navigating Probate

Probate—the legal process of administering a person’s estate after their death—can be a loaded topic. Depending on the size and complexity of the decedent’s (the deceased person’s) estate, how organized their affairs were at the time of their death, the state they lived in, and many other factors, the probate process may vary widely from person to person.  Of course, the best way to deal with probate is to avoid it. A thorough estate plan that includes a revocable trust dictating where assets go can allow an estate to bypass (or mostly bypass) the oft-tedious probate process. To learn more...

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Mar 14, 2024

Dynasty Trusts: Everything You Need to Know

To achieve estate planning objectives, it helps to be familiar with various types of trusts. A dynasty trust can be a great tool for clients who want to preserve their wealth or family business for several generations while minimizing estate taxes. Here, we’ll help you understand what exactly a dynasty trust is, how it works, how it differs from other trusts, how to set one up, and when it might be a good idea to use one. We’ll also discuss the tax implications of using a dynasty trust and how it can minimize a certain type of tax that specifically...

News Entry

ThinkAdvisor

Mar 13, 2024

Vanilla Rolls Out Estate Plan Visualizer

Vanilla announced Wednesday the launch of a new estate plan visualization and evaluation tool called Vanilla Scenarios.   The tool enables advisors to visualize potential federal and state estate tax mitigation strategies in real time, according to the firm’s announcement. Advisors can layer multiple strategies onto existing plans and customize the details of each strategy, including changes to their client’s state of residency or beneficiaries.   This approach to modeling allows advisors to showcase the potential impact of each scenario, the firm explains, providing clients with actionable insight and recommendations for meaningful planning improvements.   [...] Read more: Vanilla Rolls...

Webinar

Vanilla

Mar 12, 2024

Inside the 2024 Estate Planning Playbook & AMA with Steve Lockshin

Estate planning is an essential pillar of holistic financial advice — but the complexity of it can feel daunting to many advisors. In this webinar, we take you step-by-step through how to incorporate estate planning into your practice, using top advisor Steve Lockshin’s own playbook. And we delve into new developments in 2024 you’ll want to keep an eye on as you strategize. In this webinar, you’ll also see an exclusive Q&A session with two industry leaders: Steve Lockshin, co-founder of Vanilla and AdvicePeriod, and Arielle Lederman, a senior wealth advisor, strategist, and former estate attorney.  You’ll come away with: ...

News Entry

CityWire

Mar 12, 2024

Vanilla launches new estate modeling software

Estate planning tech firm Vanilla today launched its new planning software, making it available to clients for the first time, the firm said.   The new software, called Vanilla Scenarios, will allow advisors and estate lawyers to model different estate planning strategies for their clients to help them see the implications of those strategies in real time.   Scenarios will allow customers to layer a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT), a Spousal Lifetime Access Trust (SLAT), an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT) and a Qualified Personal Residential Trust (QPRT) over a client’s existing estate plan, allowing them to make more...

News Entry

Investment News

Mar 12, 2024

Tech provider Vanilla unveils estate planning scenarios tool

Estate planning technology firm Vanilla is looking to shake up the wealth landscape with a new planning visualization tool. The platform's latest offering, Vanilla Scenarios, seeks to modernize how advisors, wealth planners, and estate lawyers plan and optimize their clients' estate strategies.   [...]   Read more: Tech provider Vanilla unveils estate planning scenarios tool [Leo Almazora, Investment News]

Blog

John Costello

Mar 12, 2024

Vanilla Unveils Vanilla Scenarios™ to Power Interactive Estate Planning and Modeling

Vanilla Scenarios provides advisors and estate strategists with powerful planning tools to identify planning gaps, visualize future projections, and optimize plans for maximum impact. Vanilla, a leading provider of innovative estate planning software, today announced the availability of Vanilla Scenarios™, a powerful new tool designed to optimize clients' estate plans for the future. Vanilla Scenarios modernizes estate planning by providing advisors, wealth planners, and estate lawyers with unparalleled capabilities to model multiple planning scenarios dynamically and in real-time.  Advisors can effortlessly layer multiple strategies onto existing plans and customize the details of each strategy, including changes to their client’s state...

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Mar 01, 2024

25 Critical Discovery Questions for Financial Advisors

Whether you’re meeting with a new prospective client or doing a client review with a client you’ve had for decades, it’s important to know how to guide the conversation. Asking the right questions allows you to gain the insights you need to provide the best advice possible while fostering a deeper connection. Because when you take the time to listen to clients’ answers to these questions mindfully, It shows that you genuinely care about their goals, values, and needs. The questions you ask at the first discovery meeting with a new potential client are especially key in building a strong...

News Entry

ThinkAdvisor

Feb 23, 2024

Estate Planning Is ‘The Next Frontier’ for Advisors: Steve Lockshin

Estate planning is moving to the forefront of the consumer’s mind,” says Steve Lockshin, the founder of the estate planning platform Vanilla.   His goal is to move it to the forefront of the financial advisor’s mind.   In a recent interview with ThinkAdvisor, the AdvicePeriod co-founder and principal argues that estate planning is “the next frontier. This is true for anybody who has any wealth at all.”   Lockshin, an early champion of high tech for advisors, discusses why he thinks estate planning will become “a staple” with financial advisors and why it is “an important family security issue.”...

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Feb 23, 2024

How Estate Administration Works & Ways to Simplify it for Your Beneficiaries

Whether you’re putting together your estate plan, assisting your clients in the process, or figuring out how to navigate the intricacies of distributing a loved one’s estate, it’s helpful to understand the estate planning and administration process. This can save you or your beneficiaries time by planning ahead so you can reduce unnecessary stress in transferring assets to heirs. When considering estate planning strategies to maximize your legacy and transfer your assets according to your wishes, it’s also helpful to consider how your estate planning & administration can be affected by probate. So today we explain the steps involved in...

Winner of Innovative Financial Planning Solutions award Blog

John Costello

Feb 22, 2024

Vanilla Wins Best Financial Planning Award from WealthTech Americas

Latest award win highlights innovative estate planning technologies within Vanilla platform, including VAI and Vanilla Scenarios Vanilla, a leading provider of innovative estate planning software, has been named winner of the Financial Planning (US) category at the WealthBriefing WealthTech Americas Awards.   The annual award program is organized by WealthBriefing and its sister publications WealthBriefingAsia and Family Wealth Report, recognizing achievements across the wealth management industry. The awards are designed to showcase outstanding firms and individuals that have demonstrated innovation and excellence during the last year, as evaluated by an esteemed panel of independent judges Vanilla’s win in the Financial Planning...

The Impact of Planning: Introducing Vanilla Scenarios March 12, 11 a.m. PST / 2 p.m. EST Webinar

Vanilla

Feb 21, 2024

The Impact of Planning: Introducing Vanilla Scenarios

With Vanilla’s newest planning feature, Scenarios, advisors can visualize a client’s estate plan today and model future outcomes.  Join this webinar to learn how to:  Utilize the new Projections feature to create a base case showing changes in wealth at specific points in time Conduct what-if analyses and stack different planning strategies together with Scenarios to achieve client goals Visualize tax mitigation strategies and call out unwanted liability situations Have richer conversations about your clients’ futures and make meaningful planning improvements Plus, you’ll hear from Hightower why advanced planning is integral for advisors and planners to offer more value to...

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Feb 20, 2024

What Is a Credit Shelter Trust? And How Can It Help Minimize Estate...

In estate planning, there are several types of trusts especially designed to help individuals avoid or reduce estate taxes. One of these is the credit shelter trust. The credit shelter trust is often used by married couples as one of many estate planning strategies that can help them pass on more wealth to beneficiaries after both spouses pass away. Here, we explain what a credit shelter trust is, how it works, and when you or your clients should consider using it to leave a greater legacy by minimizing or even eliminating the estate tax bill. What is a credit shelter...

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Feb 16, 2024

Top Financial Advisor Software Picks for 2024

If you’re an advisor looking to deliver the highest level of client service without adding more work to your plate, the right technology stack - whether it’s  financial planning software, investment management software, or estate planning software - can be an invaluable asset to your practice.  From projecting retirement outcomes, to helping clients visualize the impact of different investment choices on their goals, to supporting clients in achieving their legacy goals, there is software out there that can fill nearly any gap. But where do you start when it comes to finding the best software for your practice? To save...

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Feb 15, 2024

Grantor Trust vs Non-Grantor Trust: What’s the Difference?

If you or your clients are considering an estate planning strategy that includes a trust, you may be wondering about the difference between the many types of trusts out there. Specifically, if you hear a trust referred to as a grantor trust, what does that mean? And how is this different from a non-grantor trust?  Today, we’ll explain the difference between a grantor trust and a non-grantor trust and help you understand when to use each one to achieve your estate planning goals. What is a grantor trust? A grantor trust is a type of trust in which the person...

Blog

Rachel Pettis

Feb 12, 2024

Vanilla’s new features for February – detailed projections, collaborative onboarding, charitable calculations

February is a short month, but that doesn’t mean we’re short on new features. The Vanilla team has been working hard and are excited to bring three high-impact new features in February: Enhanced Projections Collaborative Onboarding Auto-calculations for Charitable Gifts Let's dive in. Visualize the future value of an estate with the new Projections Wealth advisors play a crucial role in helping their clients understand the full picture of their wealth both today and in the future. Generalized financial planning tools are helpful for understanding how assets grow and fall over time. But they fall short when it comes to...

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Feb 06, 2024

The Impact of AI on Financial Advisors and Four Ways to Stay Ahead

Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the way business is done in many industries. With about 42% of large-scale organizations actively using AI in their business, the financial services industry is no exception.  Individual use of large learning models (LLMs) like ChatGPT and Bard has also grown exponentially, including AI-powered software and AI based financial advisors.  This begs a couple of very important questions. What does the rise of AI mean for the potential future of financial advisors, their clients, and individuals seeking out financial advice? And how can advisors leverage AI in their business to maintain a competitive edge, deliver...

Client material

Daniel Brockley

Feb 01, 2024

Estate Planning: Advanced strategies (Brandable)

Tax planning for clients with taxable estates has always been complex. The best way to explain strategies is with diagrams, not documents. That’s why we’ve put together this brandable PowerPoint presentation for client meetings with 10 diagrams to explain some of the advanced strategies and why anyone with $10M in assets should care about estate tax.

Webinar

Vanilla

Feb 01, 2024

How to Choose the Right Estate Planning Software for Your Firm

In this webinar, you’ll get an expert POV from Erin Hulse, the CEO of Deviate Consulting, which specializes in helping firms select software and implement it into their systems. She’ll take you through step-by-step how to evaluate estate planning software, including your firm’s specific needs, security, integrations, scalability, and more. You’ll also hear from Brittany Brown, senior associate at Summit Trail Advisors, who recently went through a rigorous process of estate planning software evaluation in preparation for her firm’s purchase decision. Be sure to download the Buyer’s Guide to Estate Planning Software as well, which we will be referencing throughout...

Blog

John Costello

Jan 23, 2024

Vanilla Launches AI-Powered Estate Planning Assistant and Expanded Document Builder Capabilities

New AI assistant VAI Chat helps advisors with estate planning concepts; streamlined document creation gives clients a modern estate planning experience Vanilla, a leading provider of innovative estate planning software, today announced new additions to its platform, including VAI Chat, Collaborative Onboarding, and the expanded availability of Vanilla Document Builder™. VAI Chat is an AI-powered assistant designed to simplify the estate planning experience for wealth planners, advisors, and their clients. Currently in beta, VAI Chat offers an intuitive chat experience in the Vanilla platform, answering practical estate planning questions sourced from a curated corpus of estate planning content. Its capabilities...

News Entry

Vanguard Pressroom

Jan 18, 2024

Vanguard Introduces Enhanced Digital Estate Planning Tools to Investors Through Partnership with Vanilla

Vanguard is introducing new and enhanced intergenerational wealth and legacy planning capabilities through a partnership with Vanilla, an innovative provider of digital estate planning tools and solutions.   The offer was successfully piloted to a small cohort of eligible advised clients in Vanguard Personal Advisor Wealth Management over the past year and will scale to provide ultra-high-net-worth Vanguard investors with a powerful visualized approach to help manage and achieve their current and future estate planning objectives.   [...] Read the full article here: Vanguard Introduces Enhanced Digital Estate Planning Tools to Investors Through Partnership with Vanilla [Pressroom, Vanguard]

Blog

John Costello

Jan 18, 2024

Vanguard Introduces Enhanced Digital Estate Planning Tools to Investors Through Partnership with Vanilla

Vanguard is introducing new and enhanced intergenerational wealth and legacy planning capabilities through a partnership with Vanilla, an innovative provider of digital estate planning tools and solutions. The offer was successfully piloted to a small cohort of eligible advised clients in Vanguard Personal Advisor Wealth Management over the past year and will scale to provide ultra-high-net-worth Vanguard investors with a powerful visualized approach to help manage and achieve their current and future estate planning objectives.  Launched in 2015, the Personal Advisor suite of advice offers is Vanguard’s industry-leading hybrid advice service that combines a sophisticated online experience and underlying technology...

Blog

Vanilla

Jan 11, 2024

Vanilla Appoints Marc Dorfman as Chief Revenue Officer

Vanilla adds more than 20 years of experience in financial services and fintech to C-suite Vanilla, a leading provider of estate planning software, today announced the appointment of Marc Dorfman as Chief Revenue Officer. Marc brings extensive experience in sales and customer success to Vanilla, with over two decades of driving revenue growth and leading high-performing teams in the financial services and fintech industries.  Throughout his career Marc has excelled at forging strong client relationships and navigating complex sales cycles, working with the largest asset and wealth managers in the world. In addition to guiding their investment strategies, Marc has...

Blog

Daniel Brockley

Jan 09, 2024

Leveraging Centers of Influence: A Strategic Approach for Financial Advisors

Ask most financial advisors how they get their best clients, and nine times out of ten, they’ll answer: referrals. Referrals are the lifeblood of new business for financial advisors, because what an advisor does requires an immense amount of trust from clients. Referrals from a friend or colleague are a shortcut to that trust. But referrals don’t have to be from other clients. Referrals from industry professionals in complementary occupations – so called “centers of influence” – can not only yield new business, but a higher level of service for your clients by integrating complementary services for a more holistic...

Webinar

Vanilla

Jan 08, 2024

What’s new with Vanilla: January 2024

Learn more about Vanilla Document Builder, now generally available, and an enhanced client onboarding experience coming soon. Plus we have an exciting update regarding VAI, our purpose built AI for estate planning. Tune in to: See how your clients can create estate plan documents on-demand Expedite client onboarding and invite clients to complete a self-guided questionnaire Work smarter thanks to the power of VAI, AI for estate planning Hear about other new and upcoming features in the Estate Advisory Platform

News Entry

SHIFT with Ross Marino [Podcast]

Jan 05, 2024

Preventing Trust Fund Monsters with Steve Lockshin

Steve Lockshin joins Ross Marino on advising high level investors on their retirement plans and preventing "trust fund monsters." [...]   Listen to the full episode here: Preventing Trust Fund Monsters with Steve Lockshin [SHIFT with Ross Marino]

Blog

Rachel Pettis

Dec 29, 2023

2024 IRS Updates to Inflation-Adjusted Numbers for Estate Planning

Welcome to 2024! It's a new year which means higher inflation-adjusted exemptions. Accordingly, we have updated the Vanilla Estate Advisory Platform with the newest inflation-adjusted estate planning figures recently released by the IRS. This will enable advisors to accurately project the growth of clients’ estates and strategize on trust structures, gifting, tax mitigation and more. Source: IRS.gov Federal Estate Tax Exemption The federal estate tax exemption has increased from $12.92M to $13.61M per individual (or $27.22M per married couple). For advisors whose clients have taxable estates, it’s important to note that estate tax exemptions are “unified”. This means that if...

Webinar

Vanilla

Dec 19, 2023

Grow Business & Deepen Client Relationships with Estate Advisory

Estate advisory is the practice of using ongoing estate planning to uncover and align your clients ultimate goals. In today’s competitive market, financial advisors need a way to stand out and deliver better service to their clients. In fact, in a study conducted by Spectrem, 93% of clients want estate planning from advisors and only 22% are getting it. Estate advisory can expand existing relationships, address client pain points, and broaden prospecting opportunities. Hear from a panel of industry peers on the benefits of offering estate advisory, how to address related challenges, and grow your business. Learn how: Estate advisory...

News Entry

The Diamond Podcast for Financial Advisors

Dec 14, 2023

Barron’s Top Advisor and Industry Visionary Steve Lockshin: Lessons from the Life of...

Steve Lockshin, founder of Vanilla, AdvicePeriod,  and others, offers a unique perspective on how an advisor’s entrepreneurial DNA can drive their ability to serve clients and grow untethered, particularly in the independent space.   Many advisors often face an unfortunate truth: The decision-makers at a firm often know very little about being an actual financial advisor. Steve Lockshin has sat on both sides of the proverbial table, and he shares two unique vantage points: The perspective of an advisor who recognizes the limitations at his current firm and the entrepreneur and problem solver who fills those gaps with new solutions....

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Dec 14, 2023

8 Key estate planning tools for financial advisors and clients

Advisors often hesitate to bring up estate planning with clients because they’re not sure where to start…or which aspects of estate planning to cover. While some estate planning strategies can be complex, advisors can still start meaningful conversations by understanding some basic estate planning tools that every client should consider. While many basic estate planning tools are simple to implement, many clients are simply unaware of their existence or importance. That’s where great advisors can come in and potentially help uncover missing pieces that could drastically affect how a clients’ wishes are carried out. Regardless of your level of estate...

Blog

Rachel Pettis

Dec 04, 2023

New educational pages and enhancements for Vanilla reports

If there’s one thing we all agree on here at Vanilla it’s that estate planning matters, a lot. But not every client understands just how important estate planning is. Proper estate planning ensures the preservation of wealth – and its intended purpose for clients and their families. The best planning keeps a client’s family secure, both while they’re alive and long after, whereas improper or lack of planning may expose a client to lengthy legal proceedings, unnecessary taxes, probate fees, and more.  We know from advisors that clients need ongoing education to make the most informed decisions for their estate...

Webinar

Vanilla

Nov 28, 2023

Best Digital Marketing Strategies for Financial Advisors in 2024

In 2024, the opportunities to land new clients for your practice through online marketing are endless. But with the rise of AI and fast-changing digital marketing trends, figuring out how to get your business in front of ideal prospects – and turn them into clients – can be confusing and overwhelming. So how should you allocate your time or budget to get the highest ROI on your digital marketing efforts? Join us as we help you navigate the sea of marketing strategies and show you how to create a strong online presence and a solid marketing plan that grows your...

Blog

Daniel Brockley

Nov 21, 2023

New client conversations: How to lay a rock-solid foundation to a long-term relationship

The first conversations financial advisors have with clients and prospects are more than just exchanges of information. They are pivotal moments that set the stage for a lasting and fruitful relationship.  These discussions–which can sometimes span multiple initial conversations depending on the client’s financial and family complexity–go beyond numbers and portfolios. They are a chance to understand the values, goals, and family dynamics that motivate them. These conversations enable you to develop a report, which is vital if you’re to be trusted with sensitive financial and family information. And they provide an important opportunity to gain crucial information that will...

Webinar

Vanilla

Nov 16, 2023

Creating Estate Planning Documents with Vanilla

Legal documents are the foundation of any estate plan, and it’s crucial that your clients have up to date documents that reflect the estate strategy you’ve helped them create. 23% of clients with more than $1 million in assets do not even have basic estate documents in place – and those who do often have docs with crucial outdated information they may not even be aware of. Vanilla Document Builder enables wealth advisors and clients to create wills and trusts with simple, intuitive questionnaires as a part of the end-to-end estate advisory process. Information from the estate documents flows directly...

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Nov 15, 2023

What is an Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust (IDGT)?

An intentionally defective grantor trust (IDGT) is among the many estate planning strategies that can help your clients preserve wealth and leave a lasting legacy. It is especially effective for high net worth individuals who want to pass on highly appreciated or high-growth assets while minimizing estate taxes and potentially reducing income taxes.  Due to their more complex nature, IDGTs can sometimes be misunderstood and underutilized, causing clients to miss out on their many tax-saving benefits. So what is an intentionally defective grantor trust? What makes it “defective” and how can this feature be used to help your clients pass...

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Nov 06, 2023

7 Effective digital marketing strategies for financial advisors

Digital marketing offers advisors a great opportunity to expand your client base, increase your authority in the industry, and grow your business. Because digital marketing allows you to reach a wider audience of qualified prospects faster, it’s also more scalable than simply relying on in-person networking, cold calling, or other more traditional ways of acquiring financial advisor leads. Yet when it comes to online marketing, what works in other industries doesn’t necessarily always work for financial advisors. With a basic grasp of the following digital marketing strategies for wealth management, you’ll be able to connect with qualified prospects, increase awareness...

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Oct 31, 2023

What is holistic financial planning and how can it help financial advisors and...

How can advisors deepen client relationships, attract and retain more clients, and grow their revenues all at once? By integrating holistic financial planning into their practice. Holistic financial planning isn't just about staying competitive in a world filled with roboadvisors and AI. It's a client-centered approach that goes beyond optimizing investment portfolios. It's about stepping into the role of a Total Wealth Advisor who prioritizes holistic advice over selling products and truly helps clients achieve their life's most cherished goals and dreams. Although there’s a lot of talk about goals-based planning in the industry, it can be hard to know...

Webinar

Vanilla

Oct 30, 2023

Flipping the traditional wealth management model on its head with estate advisory

In the last few decades, wealth management has gone through a transformation. The very expertise that used to enable firms to stand out, investment strategy, has become largely commoditized. Today, clients are looking for more from their advisors, and standing out as an advisor takes a fresh, more holistic approach. Estate advisory  is the ideal entree into new and deeper client relationships. It enables advisors not only to broach financial strategy on a more intimate level, but to help clients view their finances beyond the next few decades, and into the next few generations. In this, the advisor becomes an...

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Oct 26, 2023

Culturally aware estate planning: How to build trust and deepen relationships with clients...

Great client-advisor relationships don’t just happen by accident. They’re cultivated over time and founded upon a mutual sense of trust and understanding. This starts with communication that helps clients feel safe to openly share their financial goals and challenges without fear of judgment.  In an increasingly globalized world, advisors have clients who often come from many different backgrounds, belief systems, and cultures. Perhaps some of your clients emigrated to the US from other countries or grew up with immigrant parents. As a result, their beliefs and attitudes around the topics of finance and estate planning might be completely different from...

Blog

Daniel Brockley

Oct 24, 2023

Estate planning for digital assets: From social media and digital photos to crypto...

It used to be simple. Well, relatively simple. Physical possessions and properties were documented in trusts and wills, and when someone died, the executor would collect the keys and doll the possessions out. (Okay, I’m skipping probate and a few rather essential steps here, but you get the drift). What happens, though, when there is no physical possession – when there is no key? What happens when the assets in question are non-tangible? When they exist only in the digital world? Vanilla recently held a partner webinar with Kitces.com, where Jeff Levine outlined some key considerations that advisors and clients...

News Entry

Investment News

Oct 20, 2023

Estate planning gets an AI makeover thanks to Vanilla

Artificial intelligence is certain to change how financial advisors and wealth managers operate, with many applications streamlining and accelerating processes.   Estate planning solutions firm Vanilla is aiming to leverage the power of AI to speed up everyday tasks such as turning estate documents into diagrams, creating projections for federal and state-specific estate tax, and beneficiary summaries.   Using its own purpose-built AI model called VAI, the firm’s newly launched suite of tools will assist advisors in understanding the unique circumstances and issues for high-net-worth families. This will include identifying planning opportunities to help advisors stay ahead of the curve....

News Entry

CityWire

Oct 19, 2023

Vanilla unveils AI estate planning tools for advisors

Estate planning software provider Vanilla on Thursday revealed the launch of a suite of artificial intelligence (AI)-powered resources, which the company says will save advisors time when navigating potentially complicated estate issues.   The new tools, the company says, will use AI to assess family structures and tax implications, both to provide more well rounded planning strategies and to produce graphics to help clients better understand their situation.   ‘We’re proud to introduce comprehensive, tech-forward solutions that make it easy for wealth planners and advisors to deliver proactive planning advice to clients at enterprise scale,’ stated Gene Farrell, Vanilla’s chief...

Blog
Amjad Hussain

Amjad Hussain

Oct 19, 2023

New Vanilla innovations accelerate customers’ ability to deliver Estate Advisory

When we launched the Vanilla Estate Advisory Platform just over a year ago, we did so because we saw a problem without a solution. There was a deep need for a tool that enabled wealth advisors to help clients with their estate strategy as part of their holistic financial planning. Over the past year, our customers have not only used the Vanilla platform to grow their business and bring value to clients – they have helped us grow, too. We have worked hand in hand with our customers, from small RIAs to the largest enterprise firms to innovate and bring...

Blog

Vanilla

Oct 19, 2023

Vanilla Announces New AI-Powered Estate Planning Innovations

New AI features to accelerate how financial advisors and wealth advisors can serve high-net-worth clients at scale SALT LAKE CITY, UT – Vanilla, a leading provider of estate planning solutions today announced several new cutting-edge tools for advisors powered by VAI™, a proprietary AI model purpose-built by Vanilla to enhance the estate planning experience. At launch, VAI will power new features like Vanilla Estate Builder™ that will reduce the time it takes to turn estate documents into powerful diagrams, federal and state-specific estate tax projections, and beneficiary summaries. The new Vanilla Scenarios™ will leverage VAI to understand the client's family structure, proactively...

Blog

Vanilla

Oct 19, 2023

Create core estate planning documents on-demand with Vanilla Document Builder ™

Updated 10/19/23 Wealth advisors can now give clients a modern estate planning experience–starting with document creation, to estate plan visualizations and ongoing advisory At Vanilla, we believe it’s every wealth advisor's job to ensure that their clients have an estate plan that matches their values and goals. The foundation of a plan is its document, but more often than not, clients have out-of-date estate planning documents or none at all. In fact, according to Vanilla’s State of Estate Planning, 23% of clients with more than $1 million in assets do not have basic estate documents. The consequences of dying intestate,...

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Oct 09, 2023

A Guide to Estate Planning for Individuals with Special Needs

Estate planning for clients who have adults or children with special needs in their lives can be complex. Unlike traditional estate planning, special needs estate planning requires paying careful attention to the individual with special needs’ eligibility for government benefits. This is in addition to skillfully leveraging assets to most effectively attend to their unique health and wellness needs. Imagine that one of your clients is a family with three adult children, all living in different states. The two younger brothers have established their own families and are financially comfortable. But their oldest sister is living with muscular dystrophy and...

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Sep 29, 2023

Estate planning for high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals

While everyone can benefit from a properly structured estate plan, it becomes even more critical for those with higher levels of wealth. High net worth and ultra-high net worth families often face unique challenges that may demand more sophisticated approaches to preserve and protect their wealth. Estate planning for high net worth individuals often starts with the same foundation as for smaller estates. But because larger estates are more likely to be exposed to estate taxes, creditors, and family or business conflicts, additional planning is required to mitigate these and other risks. Before offering several strategies that advisors and clients...

Blog

Gene Farrell

Sep 28, 2023

Vanilla appoints Nathan Hunt as Head of Finance and Doug Rybacki as Chief...

Vanilla Strengthens Its Leadership Team with Two Exceptional Hires Los Angeles, CA,  – Vanilla, the industry-leading Estate Advisory Platform, is thrilled to announce the latest additions to its leadership team. Nathan Hunt joins Vanilla as Head of Finance and Doug Rybacki is joining as Vanilla’s Chief Product Officer. "We are excited to welcome Nathan and Doug to the Vanilla family. Their impressive backgrounds and strong functional leadership will help accelerate our mission of building the complete estate planning platform.” - Gene Farrell, CEO Nathan Hunt We are excited to introduce Nathan Hunt as our Head of Finance. Nathan brings a...

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Sep 26, 2023

A guide to estate tax planning for financial advisors

Beyond helping clients reduce capital gains taxes or income taxes, advisors are uniquely positioned to help clients preserve more of their wealth through proper estate tax planning. Imagine that just a few months after the unfortunate death of one of your clients, their surviving spouse or children find out they have to pay a large unexpected estate tax bill. What if this tax bill could’ve been avoided?  Taking advantage of estate tax planning tools like gifting, trusts, and the marital deduction can help clients achieve their unique goals, maximize tax savings, and reduce survivors’ financial stress. Here, you’ll learn how...

Webinar

Vanilla

Sep 26, 2023

Legacy Now Fall 2023

Welcome back to Legacy Now. On Oct 19th we shared the latest innovation and enhancements to the Vanilla Estate Advisory Platform. Together with our customers, we are redefining how financial advisors, wealth planners, attorneys and their clients approach one of the most important parts of each clients’ lives: their legacy. In this virtual launch event: Vanilla CEO Gene Farrell shares our view on the future of estate planning and advisory. We discussed the role technology and AI will play in transforming estate planning. Special guests discussed how they are preparing for the 2026 Exemption Sunset. Product experts presented the new...

Guide

Vanilla

Sep 26, 2023

New Client Conversations: An Estate Planning Checklist

Whether they're a new client, or a client with whom you haven't discussed estate planning with in the past, this checklist will take you through some important questions to ask to ensure you help meet their goals. This checklist is broken down by net worth and includes the important documents you'll want to make sure you gather.  

News Entry

Forbes

Sep 18, 2023

Why Modern Wealth Management Must Include Estate Planning

You’re not your grandfather’s financial advisor. The remit of advisors has been forced to adapt to a changing world and new client needs. This seismic shift, from a laser focus on assets directly under an advisor’s management to a holistic approach to monitoring wealth, is one that has benefited everyone, client and advisor alike. For the clients, the appeal is clear. They stand to gain more and feel safer when their wealth as a whole is being monitored and balanced by skilled professionals. And for advisors, the new approach allows them to serve their clients better and to develop deeper...

Blog
Jim Sinai

Jim Sinai

Sep 15, 2023

Vanilla’s new estate planning research reveals key opportunities for advisors

Introducing Vanilla’s first-ever State of Estate Planning report Advisors are at a crossroads. Technology is shaking things up, economic policies are evolving, and new generations of clients are knocking on the door. Finding ways to future-proof your business in the face of change and uncertainty can be daunting, so we decided to shine a light on clients' ever-changing needs and help advisors anticipate where the industry might be headed. This summer, we surveyed more than 1,000 Americans to capture the pulse of public opinion on a wide spectrum of estate planning issues.  Today, we are thrilled to share the result...

News Entry

Financial Planning

Sep 07, 2023

Study reveals UHNW fears in estate planning

While most Americans worry about having enough to leave behind, a new study finds that the ultrarich fear leaving too much behind and feeding "trust fund monsters."   Estate planning wealthtech firm Vanilla, which is backed by investors including Michael Jordan, published a report on Thursday that dives into the motivations and fears driving Americans at all wealth levels in legacy planning. The report examines attitudes and behaviors in Americans with less affluence, reporting under $1 million of household net worth, as well as those in the high net worth and ultrahigh net worth spheres.   Overall, respondents said they...

News Entry

WealthTech Today [Podcast]

Sep 07, 2023

The Evolution of Estate Planning: A Conversation with Steve Lockshin, Vanilla

You’re listening to Episode 201 of the WealthTech Today podcast. I’m your host, Craig Iskowitz, founder of Ezra Group Consulting. This podcast features interviews, news and analysis on the trends and best practices, all about wealth management technology.   My guest for this episode is one of the most well known leaders in the industry, Steve Lockshin. Steve is a serial entrepreneur in the wealth advisory industry. He’s a principal of RIA AdvicePeriod and co founder of Vanilla, a software platform for estate advisory and that’s what we’ll be talking about today, the estate planning software provider called Vanilla that...

Webinar

Vanilla

Sep 06, 2023

The State of Estate Planning 2023

Join three leaders in finance, technology and law as they uncover insights from a new research report on where finance and estate planning stand today – and where they are going in the future. They’ll explore how advisors can future-proof their business by embracing estate advisory. This webinar will unpack the research data, including client opinions, values, and biases related to a range of estate planning topics. Attendees will hear panelists share their expert perspectives on:  Why estate advice requires intimate, difficult conversations and presents unique opportunities to deliver differentiated advice. How advisors can use estate planning to foster trust...

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Sep 05, 2023

What is a pot trust and how could it benefit your clients?

Do your clients struggle to structure their estate plan in a way that aligns with their wishes while providing for their heirs in cases of need? They might want to consider a pot trust. A pot trust is a type of trust that puts clients’ assets into a single pool for a certain group of beneficiaries. It gives the trustee the flexibility to distribute the assets as needed to benefit any given beneficiary. While some advisors highly recommend pot trusts because of their unique benefit of allowing for equitable, but not necessarily equal distribution, others view pot trusts differently. No...

News Entry

Rethinking65

Aug 31, 2023

How Total Wealth Advisors Differentiate with Estate Planning and Insurance

At a recent conference, the speaker asked the audience of advisors, “Who in the room thinks they are smarter or a better investor than the people they are sitting next to?” A few bold people put their hands up, but most did not. Why? Because everyone in the room knows that beating the market consistently over a long period of time comes down to just luck.   While clients would love to receive market-beating advice, no self-respecting advisor would try to win over clients by claiming to be exceptionally lucky. So, if investing and beating the market is not the...

Blog

Daniel Brockley

Aug 24, 2023

Estate planning for pets: Making sure the kibble keeps flowing when you’re gone

We are a nation obsessed with our pets. In the US alone, we spend $123.6 billion on our furry (and scaly) friends every year. It feels like my household alone must account for a sizable chunk of that for our derpy golden retriever Alfie, between healthcare, food, grooming, toys, the occasional boarding, more toys. You get the idea. When it comes to our dog, we are stupid in love and spare no expense.  So, what happens if we’re no longer around to take care of our pets? Just as we make arrangements for our kids in the event something should...

Blog

Daniel Brockley

Aug 22, 2023

What is an advanced directive?

Life is unpredictable. Even if you’re at the pinnacle of health, running marathons and doing one-handed pushups, you could find yourself injured in a car wreck tomorrow. That’s why an advanced directive is so important.  An advanced directive is a legal document that gives specific instructions regarding your healthcare wishes if you are incapacitated. There are any number of reasons you might not be able to communicate, including being under anesthesia, in a coma, or simply not well enough to speak coherently. In these instances, medical professionals will look to your advanced directive to guide them on how you want...

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Aug 18, 2023

10 effective lead generation strategies for financial advisors

Knowing how to generate leads as a financial advisor is key to expanding your book of business and achieving sustainable growth. That’s why it’s important to have several financial advisor prospecting tools you can lean on anytime to bring potential clients into your pipeline. While lead generation for financial advisors has usually relied on traditional channels such as networking events, cold calls, or referrals, embracing innovative marketing strategies could help advisors tap into new pools of prospects faster. This article is a comprehensive guide on how to generate leads for financial advisors who want to establish themselves as trusted experts,...

Blog

Rachel Pettis

Aug 17, 2023

Accelerate client onboarding with the new Balance Sheet Builder

Today, we are launching a refreshed Balance Sheet Builder to help advisors bring client financial information into Vanilla more quickly. The new ownership-driven balance sheet makes it easier to enter client accounts and data.  Instead of creating individual assets, entering a client’s information now begins at the account level through one centralized drop-down menu. New dynamic fly-outs for each account or asset type require minimal information to get set up which allows for a faster and more intuitive data entry process. Or if you’re using one of our integration partners, your client’s data will be reflected in the balance sheet...

Blog

Jessica Crosby

Aug 15, 2023

Succession planning for financial advisors: The definitive guide

In the next decade, 37% of financial advisors plan to retire. While this is an exciting milestone that many look forward to, it can also produce a fair amount of anxiety for advisors. Whether you’re a business owner or simply want to ensure your portfolio of business goes to good hands, it’s important to have a solid succession plan as you approach retirement. Your clients will be reassured to know that they’ll remain in good hands even after you’re gone, and it will give your employees and colleagues added confidence as well. As an added benefit, having a roadmap for...

Guide

Vanilla

Aug 10, 2023

A guide to trusts for estate planning

Trusts are an important component of financial and estate planning, but there are many types of trusts – each with unique pros and cons. This guide helps financial advisors and clients sort through the many different types of trusts to better understand what they might want to employ for their own estate strategies.

Blog

Rachel Pettis

Aug 08, 2023

Expedite the document abstraction process with ‘Request for Information’ notifications from Vanilla

Today, Vanilla is excited to release a new feature available during the document abstraction process. Advisors who use the Vanilla Document Abstraction Services will now receive in-app messages and e-mail notifications after submitting their client’s estate planning documents, if additional information is required. Additionally, advisors will receive a status update in Vanilla with detailed notes indicating exactly what is needed to finalize the abstraction submission. With more direct feedback between an advisor and Vanilla during the document review, advisors can onboard their clients onto the Vanilla platform faster, enhance communication, and speed up the document abstraction process for them and...

Blog

Jennifer Raess

Aug 07, 2023

What is estate planning, and why is it important?

What do you think of when you hear the term “estate planning?” If you’re like two-thirds of Americans over the age of 18, you may assume it’s something you can do another time. In fact, the majority of U.S. adults don’t have a will and have not done anything to plan for their estate.  However, you don’t have to own a mansion or business to make estate planning work in your favor. For those with any amount of net worth, estate planning alleviates the family strife of having to make important life and financial choices on your behalf. It also...

Blog
Jim Sinai

Jim Sinai

Aug 02, 2023

How rising interest rates affect estate planning strategies

What changes in estate planning when rates go up? Over the past two years, interest rates have moved from near zero to 5.25%. Most clients are probably worried about how rising rates will affect their investment and retirement accounts. But advisors working with high net worth clients should also consider how a 500+ basis point shift in rates affects advanced estate planning strategies. Some strategies become more attractive as interest rates rise, while others become less attractive. Advanced estate planning strategies  There are a number of advanced estate planning strategies that can be used to reduce a client’s taxable estate...

Blog

Daniel Brockley

Aug 01, 2023

How to approach estate planning for non-taxable clients

Vanilla recently hosted Jeff Levine, the lead financial planning nerd for Kitces.com, home of the popular Nerd’s Eye View blog, for a webinar covering key considerations when planning for non-taxable estates. While it’s impossible to pack all the great info Jeff covered in a short blog post (including a rather spectacular metaphor involving the Red Hot Chili Peppers), we’ll give you a few highlights. What are the boundaries of advice financial advisors should give in estate planning? Financial advisors often grapple with the question of where the line lies between estate planning discussions and offering unqualified legal advice. Jeff weighed...

Blog

Rachel Pettis

Jul 27, 2023

Quickly onboard clients and easily build customizable PDF reports

Build a more comprehensive balance sheet with new partner integration features Today, we are excited to announce several upgrades to our integrations with Black Diamond, Orion, and Addepar that enable advisors to import client financial data faster onto the Vanilla Estate Advisory Platform. With these new enhancements, an advisor can bring in more data from portfolio management systems to their client’s balance sheet for a more accurate representation of their estate. Advisors can select any number of clients in an estate to sync to a single Vanilla client profile when building out the balance sheet in the WealthCenter. Multiple clients'...

Blog

Daniel Brockley

Jul 20, 2023

True estate planning story: A new client facing death, without an estate plan

For Mariner Wealth Advisors paraplanner Gillian Cassidy and team, estate planning is always part of the conversation with a new client. In their onboarding process, the Mariner Wealth Advisors team inquires about existing estate plans and any life changes that may have happened since their estate documents were drawn up. They upload existing docs into Vanilla and walk through where it stands as well as potential opportunities to improve the strategy with the client.  So, when a new couple came to Gillian and team, they naturally asked about their current estate plan. What they found surprised and saddened them.  Gillian...

Webinar

Vanilla

Jul 18, 2023

What’s new with Vanilla: August 2023

Vanilla’s product experts are back with another installment of the What’s New in Vanilla webinar series. Learn about the latest feature releases and enhancements in the Vanilla Estate Advisory platform. Watch on demand to: See how advisors can expedite client onboarding and minimize financial data entry with new upgrades to the Balance Sheet Builder. Learn how our new integrations features help save time importing financial information for multiple clients and organize data. Hear about upcoming upgrades to the document abstraction process for Wealth and Estate Strategists users in Estate Builder and customizable options in the Vanilla PDF report.

Client material

Vanilla

Jul 14, 2023

Why estate planning matters (Brandable PowerPoint)

Win new clients by downloading this brandable PowerPoint presentation for client meetings. It can help them understand why estate planning matters and how you, as their trusted advisor, can make the process as simple as possible by using Vanilla.

Blog

Daniel Brockley

Jul 13, 2023

How to avoid creating a trust fund monster: Building estates that empower (not...

We want the best for our kids–for them to be happy, healthy, and love one another. And after a lifetime of working hard and weathering the ups and downs of the market, it can be heartening to know that the toils of your labor might help set up your children for success along their own paths. But money often serves as a magnifying glass, enhancing opportunities when things go well or fraying family relationships when jealousy or greed creep in. And as you consider how to leave your estate to your children, you may have a nagging feeling you can’t...

Blog

Rachel Pettis

Jul 05, 2023

Visualize estate plans holistically with Class Distributions designations

Today, we are excited to announce the latest feature to go live on the Vanilla Estate Advisory Platform, Class Distributions designations for advisors and wealth and estate planning strategists. Class Distributions designations What this means for Advisors Our newest feature, Class Distributions, allows advisors to visualize how their client’s assets flow to future generations when a beneficiary predeceases the client.  The addition of this new fact pattern allows the advisor and client to have a more holistic view of the entire estate.  Within Vanilla, advisors can align their clients’ Family Tree with the Balance Sheet by selecting per stirpes (deceased...

Blog

Simona Ondrejkova, CFP

Jun 29, 2023

What to do when your client dies: A guide for financial advisors

While it’s inevitable, it’s a call every advisor dreads: your client’s spouse or family member calling to notify you that your client has passed away. During these challenging moments, advisors must be ready to navigate both the emotional and financial implications of a client’s death. But how can advisors best prepare so they can be a source of comfort for clients’ survivors while ensuring all administrative and financial tasks are taken care of as needed? To answer this, we’ve compiled a guide to help you support the surviving spouse or beneficiaries while fulfilling your duties as an advisor. Here, you’ll...

Blog

Daniel Brockley

Jun 20, 2023

The 2026 estate tax exemption sunset is coming. Here’s what you need to...

For the past few years, most US tax residents haven’t needed to worry too much about estate tax. In 2018, the estate tax exemption was raised to an historical high of $11.18 million ($22.35 million per married couple), which has been raised yearly to adjust for inflation and put it out of sight for most estates. But the same law that raised the exemption, The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), is set to expire in 2026, bringing the estate tax exemption back down to an estimated $6-8 million per person or $12-16 million per couple (adjusting for inflation) –...

Blog

Rachel Pettis

Jun 09, 2023

Deepen client conversations with First-to-Pass analysis

At Vanilla, we are continually iterating to expand our product features and support more complex estate planning scenarios.  First-to-Pass analysis We are excited to announce our newest feature, First-to-Pass. First-to-Pass allows advisors to have deeper conversations with their clients with the Vanilla Estate Advisory Platform. Now, advisors can dynamically switch between death pattern sequences, allowing advisors to provide a holistic view of the client’s estate plan. The advisor can also decide which death sequence they want to add to the PDF report before sending it to their client.  And if the advisor chooses, they can send out two reports with...

Webinar

Vanilla

Jun 07, 2023

What’s new with Vanilla: June 2023

This latest installment of the What’s New with Vanilla webinar series covers several new features and enhancements recently launched in the Vanilla Estate Advisory Platform: First-to-Pass analysis: See how the First-to-Pass analysis helps advisors and wealth and estate strategists visualize and gain a more holistic view of the client’s estate. Class Distributions: Learn how the Class Distributions feature will allow advisors and wealth and estate strategists to designate how their client’s assets flow to future generations when a beneficiary predeceases the client. Hear about the latest upgrades to the Vanilla PDF report including new entity tables, a display name editor,...

Blog

Rachel Pettis

May 25, 2023

Vanilla + Addepar Partnership: New integration simplifies estate planning

Creating a complete estate profile for a client requires blending family, estate plan, and financial information together in one place. Today, we’re happy to announce a new partnership and integration between Addepar and Vanilla to simplify bringing financial data into the Client Profile. Addepar is one of the leading portfolio management systems for wealth advisors, and by bringing the account data from Addepar into the Vanilla Estate Advisory Platform, we will help advisors create a more comprehensive picture of their client’s estate plans. During the onboarding process, advisors can save time and avoid unnecessary manual data entry by connecting their...

sunset webinar hero Webinar

Vanilla

May 24, 2023

The 2026 estate tax exemption sunset: How to prepare – and why you...

For the past few years, most US tax residents haven’t needed to worry too much about estate tax. But that’s all about to change. At the end of 2025, the historically high estate exemption of $12.92M ($25.84 million per married couple) will sunset back down to an estimated $6-8 million per person or $12-16 million per couple (adjusting for inflation) – suddenly making the estate tax an important consideration for many more households. And the time to act is now. In this webinar, you’ll learn: How the estate tax exemption sunset will impact your clients Key strategies including SLATS, gifting,...

News Entry

ThinkAdvisor

May 22, 2023

Act Now to Avoid Estate Planning Logjam in 2025

Clients with sufficient wealth to leave them exposed to future estate tax burdens need to understand that the time to act on the generous estate tax exemption established in 2017 by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is now — not when the expanded exemption sunsets the end of 2025.   In fact, according to Steve Lockshin, an experienced financial advisor and the founder of AdvicePeriod and Vanilla, it is already becoming more and more difficult to timely source the capabilities of specialist tax planning experts and estate attorneys who understand the rapidly evolving needs of high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth clients....

Blog

Rachel Pettis

May 18, 2023

Leverage sample profiles to illustrate Vanilla’s value to your clients

With the launch of taxable and non-taxable sample profiles, advisors can now review an example of a completed client account in Vanilla. Their clients can see how the complete picture of their estate and financial plan would be represented on the platform before onboarding their own family, financial, and estate information.  During client and prospect conversations, advisors can share the completed sample profile or download the taxable or non-taxable estate PDF report. The Taylor Family is an example of a high-net worth family living in Florida with a taxable estate of $117,050,000. Their estate plan includes revocable trusts, an irrevocable...

Blog

Gene Farrell

May 17, 2023

The future of estate advisory: A new way to think about estate planning

  [Watch Legacy Now on demand, to learn more about Vanilla’s vision for estate advisory.] I believe that technology – when used thoughtfully – can be truly transformative. And this week at our Legacy Now event, with the help of Vanilla co-founder Steve Lockshin, I had the opportunity to share how Vanilla plans to transform not just estate planning, but financial advising as a whole, with the new Vanilla Estate Advisory Software.  The technology itself is only a part of the picture. It’s a tool. It’s the enabler that, when paired with exceptional advisors, will allow for a new kind...

Webinar

Vanilla

May 16, 2023

The changing roles of advisors in estate planning with Bob Oros and Steve...

At our recent Legacy Now event, Hightower CEO Bob Oros and Vanilla cofounder Steve Lockshin sat down with Vanilla CEO Gene Farrell to discuss the changing roles of advisors in estate planning. Learn more about: Why advisors are leaning into Estate Advisory How to use Estate Advisory to connect with clients in a whole new way How technology is helping advisors and wealth planners serve their clients needs around estate planning You can watch the full event here.

News Entry

Wealth Management

May 15, 2023

The Rise of the ‘Estate Advisor’

Move over estate planners, it’s time for "estate advisors" to take the lead. At least that's what Steve Lockshin and Vanilla hope.   Estate planning tech leader Vanilla announced Tuesday the launch of what it calls the first fully integrated estate planning platform—The Vanilla Estate Advisory Platform.   The product purports to offer advisors visualizations of the estate, beneficiary summary and projections, estate tax projections, a dynamic balance sheet integrated with the leading personal finance management tools and an on-demand report builder. Vanilla also offers estate-planning educational resources for both clients and advisors as part of its "Vanilla Academy."  ...

Blog

Vanilla

May 11, 2023

What is a power of attorney – and how does it work?

Life is unpredictable. And as a financial advisor, one of the essential parts of your job is to help prepare clients for that unpredictability – whether that comes in the form of balancing a portfolio so that it’s not over reliant on a single company or sector or ensuring they have the right documents in place in case of an accident or health scare. One of these key documents is a power of attorney.  A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that authorizes an individual, known as the agent or attorney-in-fact, to act on behalf of another person,...

Webinar

Vanilla

May 08, 2023

Simplify estate planning by integrating Addepar with Vanilla

Hear from the teams at Addepar and Vanilla where they’ll discuss how their partnership will bring efficiency to the estate planning process. See how the integration of Addepar into Vanilla can create a comprehensive picture of your clients’ family and financial information in their estate profile. You’ll learn how to: Ensure your clients’ estate plans and balance sheets are up-to-date Save time during the onboarding process Integrate your Addepar accounts into Vanilla

Blog

Vanilla

May 03, 2023

Level setting: How to approach estate planning differently depending on estate size

  Many clients (and some financial advisors as well) tend to reduce estate planning to two simple categories: taxable estates and non-taxable estates. While it’s true that there are important differences in these asset levels, estate planning is not binary. It takes a nuanced approach, one that requires understanding a client’s situation and goals deeply.  However, even with the understanding that a good advisor will always tailor their approach to each individual client’s needs, it can be helpful to think of client needs according to a few different distinct buckets of asset classes – beyond just taxable and non-taxable. We’ve...

Webinar

Vanilla

Apr 25, 2023

What’s new with Vanilla: April 2023

Today, advisors use Vanilla to deepen client relationships, increase share of wallet and win new clients. Learn the latest innovations and product announcements on the Vanilla Estate Advisory Platform as of April 25, 2023. Our product experts will provide a deep dive into: How advisors can show their clients simple projections of their estate to help make informed planning decisions about future scenarios The new redesigned PDF estate report which enables advisors to show up with their clients in a whole new way

Blog

Vanilla

Apr 25, 2023

What is a living trust, a.k.a a revocable trust?

  A living trust (also called a revocable trust) is a legal document created by a person during their lifetime that directs how their assets are managed during their life, and how they are to be distributed after their death. It can also help bypass or minimize the sometimes expensive and time consuming probate process required by a traditional will.  A living trust is typically used in conjunction with a short will that directs all assets held in the individual’s name to “pour over” to the revocable trust on death (referred to as a “pour-over will”).  This living trust estate...

Blog

Daniel Brockley

Apr 19, 2023

Introducing Vanilla Academy: Empowering financial advisors with free educational resources on estate planning

In a recent report by Spectrem Group, a full 93% of respondents said they want estate planning advice from their advisors, but only 22% of clients are actually receiving that advice. Vanilla aims to change that. Clients crave help from their advisors on estate planning because they recognize that their advisors are in the perfect place to provide real insights. Although clients need attorneys to draft legal documents, those attorneys don’t have the same holistic view of clients’ financial pictures–their assets, their hopes, their dreams–or their family feuds–as their financial advisors have. Not only do financial advisors have more perspective...

Blog

Vanilla

Apr 18, 2023

Vanilla Launches First Fully-Integrated Estate Advisory Platform

  SALT LAKE CITY, UT - APRIL 18, 2023  Vanilla, a leading provider of estate planning solutions, today announced the launch of its new Estate Advisory Platform, the first fully integrated model of an estate, bringing together family, financial, and estate planning data into one place.  The Vanilla Estate Advisory Platform The Vanilla Estate Advisory Platform offers dynamic visualizations of the estate, beneficiary summary and projections, estate tax projections, a dynamic balance sheet integrated with the leading personal finance management tools, and an on-demand report builder. With these features, financial advisors can deliver differentiated advice, expand client relationships, win new...

Webinar

Vanilla

Apr 17, 2023

Legacy Now: Introducing the Estate Advisory Platform

With your help, we are about to completely reshape how estate planning is done. On May 16th we unveiled Vanilla’s new Estate Advisory Platform, which reimagines how financial advisors, attorneys and their clients approach one of the most important parts of their lives: their legacy.  In this live, virtual launch event: Vanilla CEO Gene Farrell will outline a new vision for estate planning and the role technology will play Hightower Chairman and CEO Bob Oros will speak with Vanilla Co-Founder Steve Lockshin on the changing role of advisors in estate planning Product experts will showcase the new Vanilla platform and...

Blog
Amjad Hussain

Amjad Hussain

Apr 13, 2023

The four ways Artificial Intelligence (AI) will transform estate planning

We’ve been hearing a lot about AI recently, and for good reason. The innovation happening with Large Language Models (LLMs) and Generative AI are remarkable, have sparked our imagination, and beg the question: What does the future hold? Of course I can’t predict the future, but I do have some thoughts about what it will mean for our industry. When it comes to estate planning, machine learning has the potential to reshape things in some important ways. This evolution may be more subtle in the present and near future – with AI playing a role in the background – but...

Blog
Jennifer Brooks

Jennifer Brooks

Apr 11, 2023

Project estate values today, and in the future

Many clients today don’t have taxable estates.  But they might once the current exemption levels automatically expire on January 1, 2026,  reverting back to ~$6.8 million per person (adjusted for inflation).  Therefore, it becomes increasingly important for advisors to explain to their clients how their estates will look in the future so that they can make the right planning decisions. With the release of Projections, advisors can now demonstrate how estates will behave at various levels of wealth and show their clients simple projections of their estate at a future date.  Projected values flow through the Estate Tax Detail, Waterfall,...

Blog

Vanilla

Apr 07, 2023

Communicating between the lines: Using letters of wishes to guide trustees

When it comes to estate planning, there’s no substitute for having the right core legal documents drafted, and ensuring they align with your clients’ wishes. But no matter how carefully estate planning documents are drafted, it’s impossible to anticipate every eventuality – and, the truth is, life often moves faster than clients do when it comes to updating their documents. One great way to bolster an estate plan against the unexpected, and to help trustees make decisions in accord with client expectations, is through Letters of Wishes. What is a letter of wishes? A letter of wishes is simply a...

Client material

Vanilla

Apr 06, 2023

A guide to gifting (Brandable PowerPoint)

Making lifetime gifts is one of the most common, tried-and-true strategies to reduce estate tax liability. We’ll walk you through the major types of charitable and non-charitable gifts that you might want to consider, as this year draws to an end.

Guide

Vanilla

Apr 04, 2023

Vanilla sample report for non-taxable estates

With Vanilla, advisors can create a new type of deliverable that both clients and prospects have never seen before. Not only does Vanilla help advisors increase the depth of their service offerings, but it also helps an advisor’s client actually understand the full picture of their wealth and legacy. Download a sample report below.

Guide

Vanilla

Apr 04, 2023

Vanilla sample report for taxable estates

With Vanilla, advisors can create a new type of deliverable that both clients and prospects have never seen before. Not only does Vanilla help advisors increase the depth of their service offerings, but it also helps an advisor’s client actually understand the full picture of their wealth and legacy. Download a sample report below.

Branded Reports Blog
Jennifer Brooks

Jennifer Brooks

Apr 03, 2023

A new look and feel for our client estate reports

One of the reasons advisors love Vanilla is the on-demand PDF estate report, which enables them to show up with their clients in a whole new way.  Now, our custom branded reports have received a major refresh to coincide with the launch of our new brand. Based on feedback from our existing customers, we have made the client PDF deliverables easier to digest and share with updates to the visualizations, diagrams, notes, and balance sheet.  The balance sheet now contains different sections for all assets and accounts that are inside and outside the estate. And the detailed estate notes now...

Blog
Jim Sinai

Jim Sinai

Apr 03, 2023

Introducing a brand new look for Vanilla

  Today, we’re excited to introduce a new look and feel to Vanilla. Vanilla was started with the point of view that thoughtful design can help make the daunting process of estate planning more accessible. Our straightforward design approach reinforces a core concept of our brand - we are making estate planning simple. After rapidly scaling the company over the last few years, we realized it was time to take a step back, redefine our voice, and reintroduce the brand to the world. A modern new look for Vanilla Vanilla’s goal is to make estate planning easy and to standardize...

Michael Blog

Daniel Brockley

Mar 15, 2023

The Advisor’s Advisor: Michael DiFiglio uses his experience at Ayco & Goldman Sachs...

  Creating a truly remarkable product is rarely one person’s doing. It takes a team of smart, talented, dedicated folks to make it happen – a diversity of experience and perspectives. At Vanilla, we have a crack team of product designers and engineers who have brought our platform to life and continue to evolve it and make it better. But in addition to dialing in our tech, we need to always keep tethered to the realities of the finance industry – to the needs of advisors and attorneys – and their clients. That means that we all spend a lot...

7 Sins Blog

Vanilla

Mar 08, 2023

11 Common Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

These common estate planning mistakes could leave your clients vulnerable to unintended consequences such as probate, loss of assets in a divorce, and avoidable estate tax liability. Financial advisors can help their clients avoid the 11 most common estate planning mistakes listed below. #1 Not updating estate planning documents regularly Some clients may think that creating an estate plan is a one-and-done proposition, but you should review and update your client’s estate plan with them when they experience any of the following: Major life events: Your client’s estate planning documents should reflect significant milestones, such as having a child, getting...

Blog

Daniel Brockley

Mar 02, 2023

Process Matters: Why “bespoke” is not enough when it comes to estate planning

  Part I in a series of 3 on The Vanilla Estate Planning Playbook. Talk to any financial advisor out there, and you’ll hear a common refrain: Sure, we do estate planning. The thing is, what advisors mean when they say they do estate planning varies wildly. For many, doing estate planning simply means asking clients if they have basic documents in place, such as a Will, trust(s), healthcare directive and power of attorney. If the client has docs, the financial advisor moves on to other matters like investments. If they don’t, they refer the client to an estate attorney...

Pour Over Blog

Vanilla

Feb 28, 2023

What is a pour-over will? The essentials financial advisors and their clients need...

Once a client has their last will and testament (“will”) and revocable trust created, their financial situation doesn’t just stand still. More often than not, a client’s financial situation will fluctuate throughout their life. A pour-over will brings added security to an estate plan–making room for all of those potential life changes–by allowing for new and unaccounted assets to automatically transfer to a previously set up revocable trust. This helps keep up with asset changes between times when your client updates their will and trust. What is a pour-over will? A pour-over will is a last will and testament that...

Award Blog

Vanilla

Feb 23, 2023

Vanilla wins Best Newcomer/Startup award at WealthTech Americas Awards 2023

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, UNITED STATES, February 23, 2023 /EINPresswire.com/ -- Vanilla, a leading estate advisory platform, has been named the winner of the 'Best Newcomer/Startup' category at the Second Annual WealthTech Americas Awards 2023. This prestigious award recognizes Vanilla's dedication to transforming how wealth advisors help their clients with estate planning. Estate planning has emerged as the next frontier of wealth advisory. Consistent and ongoing estate planning helps clients build their legacy, reduce family conflict at death, and minimize estate taxes. Vanilla gives advisors and clients an interactive, visual platform of the complete estate plan so clients can make...

the-estate-planning-playbook-with-steve-lockshin Webinar

Vanilla

Feb 22, 2023

The estate planning playbook with Steve Lockshin

Steve Lockshin unveils his step-by-step approach to building estate planning into your practice in a more meaningful way. How can financial advisors move upmarket and bring more value to clients? With the right approach to estate planning. There’s no better way to differentiate your offering and deepen client relationships. The webinar will give insights into: How to use estate planning to differentiate with UHNW clients How to engage new clients in estate planning, including specific questions to ask A yearly maintenance checklist for existing clients Commonly overlooked issues and ways to protect your clients Download the estate planning playbook here.

Guide

Vanilla

Feb 16, 2023

The Vanilla Estate Planning Playbook (updated for 2024)

A step-by-step checklist to guide your client conversations, updated for 2024. This playbook is inspired by the guide used by Steve Lockshin and his firm AdvicePeriod, based on Lockshin’s 30+ years of financial advice and estate planning for some of the most successful ultra-high net worth clients in the world.

SLAT Blog

Vanilla

Feb 14, 2023

What is a spousal lifetime access trust (SLAT), and how does it work?

A Spousal Lifetime Access Trust (“SLAT”) is an irrevocable trust set up by an individual (the “donor”) during his or her lifetime for the benefit of the individual’s spouse and if, desired, other family members.   How does the SLAT Work? A SLAT is created under a trust agreement, which contains the terms of the trust and the name of the individuals or entity that will act as trustee (typically a trusted friend or advisor). A SLAT is funded by way of a gift from the donor to the SLAT. During the donor’s lifetime, the trustee can make distributions to...

Guide

Vanilla

Feb 10, 2023

Why estate planning matters

Win new clients by downloading and sending this presentation to potential clients and prospects alike. It can help them understand why estate planning matters and how you, as their trusted advisor, can make the process as simple as possible by using Vanilla.

what is probate Blog

Vanilla

Feb 09, 2023

What is probate, and how can you make it easier for clients?

When it comes to estate planning, “probate” is a term that looms large. You might hear talk of the complexity of probate, or strategies for avoiding probate — but what exactly is it? Put plainly, probate is the legal process that occurs after a person’s death. In probate, the court recognizes the validity of a Last Will and Testament (a “Will”) and appoints a personal representative for the decedent’s estate. The representative – also known as an executor or administrator – pays the decedent’s debts and then distributes the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. Though probate is simple to define...

Top 7 Gifting Blog

Daniel Brockley

Feb 02, 2023

Top 7 gifting strategies for estate planning

In 2021, Americans gave a whopping $484.85 billion to charities, a 4% increase from 2020. And that doesn’t account for gifts to family and friends outside of official charity organizations. Simply put, gifting is a huge part of our economy. Our guide provides a great refresher for advisors, and can also be given to clients to help educate them on their options when it comes to giving. Why consider giving? People choose to give for a variety of reasons, but there are two primary drivers that gifting has become such an important part of people’s lives (and their financial plans)....

ILIT trust Blog

Vanilla

Jan 26, 2023

What is an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT)?

Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILITs) are legal vehicles established specifically to own one or more life insurance policies and are set up during an insured’s lifetime. ILITs are created to own a life insurance policy and keep its proceeds out of the insured’s or owner’s estate to avoid increasing the size of their estate when the insured dies. When an individual owns an insurance policy (whether on his or her life or the life of another individual), the insurance policy is included in the individual’s estate at death and is therefore subject to federal estate tax (to the extent the...

Estate Planning Checklist Everything Your Clients’ Documents Should Cover for 2021, According to Our Legal Expert Blog

Vanilla

Jan 24, 2023

Estate Planning Checklist: Everything your clients’ documents should cover, according to our legal...

If something should happen to your clients, regardless of their age or income, it’s crucial that they have a plan for their financial assets. As their financial advisor, you’re in the best position to keep your clients on task so they can reach their goals and ensure their families are taken care of. But between a myriad of documents, individual state requirements, and shifting federal estate tax laws, it’s no wonder the estate planning process can be overwhelming for financial advisors and their clients. That’s why we’ve created this easy-to-follow estate planning checklist. We’ll give you clear insights into a...

Blog

Vanilla

Jan 17, 2023

What is a grantor retained annuity trust (GRAT)?

In a grantor retained annuity trust (GRAT) , a grantor transfers a particular asset(s) into an irrevocable trust and retains an annuity stream from the trust for a specified term of years. The annuity amount is calculated based on an IRS interest rate (referred to as the “hurdle rate”).  At the end of the trust’s term, if the grantor survives the term of the trust, any assets remaining in the GRAT (the appreciation above the hurdle rate) will pass transfer-tax-free to the named “remainder beneficiary”, generally a trust for family members. How does a GRAT work? Grantor retained annuity trusts...

Blog

Vanilla

Jan 10, 2023

What is a charitable remainder trust? (with examples)

Many people have charitable intentions that they would like to consider as part of their estate planning. However, donating assets outright during their lifetime may not meet their financial goals. A more advanced strategy, such as a charitable remainder trust, may provide the flexibility to meet their personal financial needs while guaranteeing that a charity or charities end up with the remaining asset at the end of the term or when the settlor/donor is no longer living. When to use a Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT): When you are charitably inclined; and, You have highly appreciated securities you would like to...

What you need to know about generation-skipping gifts (and their tax implications) Blog
Jim Sinai

Jim Sinai

Dec 22, 2022

What you need to know about generation-skipping gifts (and their tax implications)

Gifting to your children is an excellent way to reduce estate tax liabilities, but sometimes it makes more sense to give directly to grandchildren, rather than to your children. Because these gifts “skip” a generation, they are referred to as generation-skipping transfers (GST) and have special tax treatment. There are a few important things to keep in mind when considering a generation-skipping transfer gift, including the generation-skipping transfer tax. We’ll break the tax down for you and give you a few more important pointers to pay attention to. What is the generation-skipping transfer tax? The generation-skipping transfer tax (or “GSTT”)...

News Entry

AdvisorHub

Dec 15, 2022

Advisor Launches Startup That’s Anything but Just Vanilla

Steve Lockshin knew early on in his career as an advisor that he was, what he now terms “a Cassandra.” He saw future trends in the financial services industry before they happened, which is, in part, a definition for the metaphor originating from Greek mythology.   Lockshin started creating businesses two decades ago, which he typically would sell to the highest bidder before going back to the drawing board to create another company. As an advisor who happens to be a serial entrepreneur, Lockshin might still be following the same successful pattern had he not created a startup that ultimately...

Death-and-Taxes-How-advisors-can-use-tech-to-enhance-estate-and-tax-planning Webinar

Vanilla

Dec 09, 2022

Death and Taxes: How advisors can use tech to enhance estate and tax...

Learn how FMB Wealth Management tackles the inevitable for clients – death and taxes – in a way that’s not only more efficient, but achieves greater outcomes. And, watch high-level demos of Holistiplan and Vanilla. Grant Blindbury details how he uses both technologies to achieve impactful results Discover how technology plays a key role in delivering differentiating value Watch product demos of Holistiplan and Vanilla

Guide

Vanilla

Dec 07, 2022

A guide to gifting

Making lifetime gifts is one of the most common, tried-and-true strategies to reduce estate tax liability. We’ll walk you through the major types of charitable and non-charitable gifts that you might want to consider, as this year draws to an end.

Let's take back our legacies Blog

Vanilla

Dec 06, 2022

Let’s take back our legacies

I am not an expert in estate planning. That may be a strange thing to admit for someone who runs a company focused on estate planning. What I do well (and what I find enormously rewarding) is identifying difficult problems, and – with the collaboration of great teams – use technology to solve them. When it comes to identifying which challenges to take on, I am drawn to areas where solving the problem can create real impact for individuals, families, and society. Estate planning is exactly this type of problem because it touches almost everyone. Helping individuals and families define...

What is a trust — and what are the different types of trusts Blog

Daniel Brockley

Nov 17, 2022

What is a trust, and what are the different types of trusts?

Trusts come up a lot in estate planning, and for good reason. They can be incredibly effective in helping fund education, provide for heirs, donate to charities and more. For high net worth individuals, trusts are also an important strategy to reduce taxable estates. The basics: What are trusts? Trusts are legal entities, much like corporations, which are considered distinct from the various parties involved. Trusts come in many forms, but in essence they are fiduciary arrangements in which, as the IRS states, “one person (the trustee) holds title to property or assets…for the benefit of another (the beneficiary).” The...

Blog

Daniel Brockley

Nov 03, 2022

Turning-Point Conversations: How to use important life events to refocus clients and deepen...

Curiosity – genuine curiosity – is one of the most important traits a financial advisor can have. Sure, this means curiosity about the different levers and pulleys of the economic machine, but it also means curiosity about clients. Not just about their risk tolerance, but about what makes them tick. Their goals, their fears. What gets them out of bed in the morning. A deeper understanding of clients as people, not just portfolios, enables you to bring the kind of value that goes far beyond index funds. There are certain times in life that lend themselves to these clarifying conversations–when...

How Dogwood Wealth Management uses estate planning to bring increased value webinar Webinar

Vanilla

Oct 28, 2022

How Dogwood Wealth Management uses estate planning to bring increased value and grow...

Learn how Dogwood Wealth Management created a three-pillar system that addresses client’s financial needs more holistically, for this generation and the next. Jason Newcomer, co-founder of Dogwood Wealth Management, joins Vanilla CMO Jim Sinai to discuss how he has created a process where estate planning–in addition to wealth advisement, risk management and tax planning–plays an essential role. Jason will outline his approach, and how he uses estate planning as a way to foster meaningful ongoing conversations with clients, rather than a set-it-and-forget-it approach. Newcomer will also discuss his tech-forward philosophy on advising, and how he’s developed a tech stack that...

Blog

Daniel Brockley

Oct 20, 2022

What should you include in a will?

A last will and testament (also known as a will) is a legal document that outlines your instructions in the event of your death. It provides direction to your family, chosen representatives, and the court regarding how your assets should pass, as well as who should take care of your minor children (or pets!). Without a Will that expressly explains your wishes, the court will identify who gets your assets (generally your next of kin), based on applicable laws. And as for your kids? Well, without a Will, the court will make those decisions, too. In the United States, wills...

Webinar

Vanilla

Oct 07, 2022

Estate planning and potential tax law changes

Daniel Gregoire at RightCapital is joined by Vanilla’s Co-Founder Steve Lockshin to discuss the impact of potential tax law changes on estate planning and how it can affect your most valued clients. Innovators like RightCapital allow advisors to differentiate with intuitive financial and tax planning. As Biden approaches approval for new tax law changes, advisors are expected to assist their clients by anticipating and navigating these changes. As the advisor, it’s important you have conversations with your clients to guide them on how to prepare for newer, more stringent tax regulations. The main topics of discussion include: The potential impact...

How Advisors Can Add Value Blog

Daniel Brockley

Oct 04, 2022

How financial advisors can add value in a bear market

It’s officially a bear market, now what? How advisors can add value when times are tough It’s brutal out there. After riding the sugar high of the pandemic, client portfolios – and probably your own portfolio as well – have found themselves in miserable hangover territory. The S&P recently hit a two year low and the Dow, not to be outdone, touched a yearly bottom as well. Instead of celebrating portfolio windfalls with your clients, you’re likely having some difficult conversations. But as challenging as these times are, there’s opportunity here. The current climate is the perfect chance to show...

Guide

Vanilla

Sep 19, 2022

Estate Planning: Advanced strategies

Tax planning for clients with taxable estates has always been complex. The best way to explain strategies is with diagrams, not documents. That’s why we’ve put together this deck of 10 diagrams to explain some of the advanced estate planning strategies and why anyone with $10M in assets should care about estate tax.

Blog
Jim Sinai

Jim Sinai

Sep 19, 2022

10 Diagrams to explain advanced estate planning strategies

Tax planning for clients with taxable estates has always been complex. We’ve learned the best way to explain estate planning strategies is with diagrams, not documents. That’s why we’ve put together this deck of 10 diagrams to explain some of the advanced strategies and why household with $10M in assets should care about estate tax. Why $10M in household assets? In 2026 the Estate Tax exemption drops down to just about $10M (or higher based on inflation). The 10 diagrams explain both why you need advanced strategies and how 8 different strategies work. We’ve explained them all below but if...

Vanilla appoints Jim Sinai as Chief Marketing Officer and Karen Nachbar as General Counsel Blog

Vanilla

Aug 04, 2022

Vanilla appoints Jim Sinai as chief marketing officer and Karen Nachbar as general...

Los Angeles, CA, August 4, 2022 - Vanilla, the award-winning Estate Advisory Platform, designed to transform how wealth advisors help their clients manage their estate and build their legacy, announces the addition of Jim Sinai as Chief Marketing Officer and Karen Nachbar as General Counsel. Jim and Karen join following a $30m Series B investment led by Insight Partners to round out a leadership team announced earlier this year and accelerate Vanilla’s growth. As CMO, Sinai will lead the marketing function reporting to Gene Farrell, CEO. Jim brings his extensive background in introducing new software products, launching brands, building demand,...

Blog
Jim Sinai

Jim Sinai

Jul 01, 2022

Organization-Wide MFA Requirement

Organization administrators can now require users to enable multi-factor authorization (MFA) for their personal accounts. Users will be required to enable MFA through either SMS or an app-based authenticator (ideally both) before accessing Vanilla. MFA is an extra layer of security that helps prevent malicious actors from gaining access to your organization's data. Please reach out to your rep about having this feature turned on! Notes: Organizations that exist will have to contact Vanilla to turn this feature on. Newly onboarded organizations will have to tell sales/customer success if they want this on when they create an org.

How Millennials Think About Wealth Management Blog

Vanilla

May 25, 2022

Millennials and Estate Planning: What advisors should know

How millennials think about wealth management—including estate planning Millennials take their financial lives seriously—and they’re ready to enlist the experts to help. The past few years have seen a lot of change in the financial lives of millennials. The generation born between 1981 and 1996 is approaching their peak earning years and hitting major milestones from having kids to buying houses to starting businesses. According to one report, there are more than 618,000 millennial millionaires in the United States. And with the Great Wealth Transfer on the horizon, millennials are poised to inherit another $68 trillion from their Baby Boomer...

Vanilla Raises $30 Million in Series B Led by Insight Partners to Accelerate Product Development and Customer Adoption Blog

Vanilla

Apr 28, 2022

Vanilla raises $30 million in series B led by Insight Partners to accelerate...

Los Angeles, CA, April 28, 2022 - Vanilla, the award-winning estate and wealth management platform, today announced that it raised $30 million in a Series B funding round led by New York-based global private equity and venture capital firm Insight Partners. Vanilla will use the funding to accelerate product development and support rapid customer adoption as it works to revolutionize how financial advisors and households of all wealth levels build their legacy. Vanilla is seeking to reshape the $180 Billion estate planning industry by offering the first comprehensive, fully digital estate planning platform designed to support the legacy building process...

Blog
Jim Sinai

Jim Sinai

Apr 18, 2022

Multi-Factor Authentication is now available for all users

Users can now enable multi-factor authentication for their own accounts. After enabling multi-factor authentication, you are required to enter your Vanilla password and a temporary one-time password every time you sign in. To enable and use multi-factor authentication, you must have a mobile device or password manager which supports multi-factor authentication installed.

News Entry

Wealth Management

Jan 05, 2022

Steve Lockshin’s Vanilla Adds CEO, CTO

Digital estate planning software developer Vanilla has added three new executives to its team as it seeks to grow its user base of advisors, according to an announcement. Former Smartsheet strategy and product executive Gene Farrell is joining Vanilla as chief executive officer, where he will be work alongside ex-Amazon Web Services (AWS) executive Amjad Hussain, who joins Vanilla as chief technology officer, and ex-Addepar executive Robin Melnick, Vanilla’s new senior vice president of revenue.   The C-suite hires signal a new chapter for the firm, founded by Steve Lockshin in 2019. Farrell will formally lead the firm, reporting to...

Vanilla hires CEO, CTO, and SVP of Revenue to accelerate scaling of the business Blog

Vanilla

Jan 04, 2022

Vanilla hires CEO, CTO, and SVP of revenue to accelerate scaling of the...

Los Angeles, CA, January 4, 2022 - Vanilla, the award-winning estate and wealth management platform designed to improve how advisors interact with their clients and prospects announces the addition of three key leaders to drive the next phase of rapid growth. These additions come on the heels of Vanilla’s $14.3 Million Series A closing, led by blue-chip investor Venrock. Gene Farrell has joined as CEO, Amjad Hussain as CTO, and Robin Melnick as SVP of Revenue. All three of these leaders bring extensive experience in building and leading enterprise software companies and will help accelerate the development of the Vanilla...

Guide

Vanilla

Oct 20, 2021

Delivering estate planning at an organizational level

Easy, effective estate planning can be brought in-house to every advising firm — and it should. By offering personalized plans for all clients (not just the ultra-wealthy), firms can get ahead of the curve, cultivating a multi-generational client base. Vanilla simplifies this often cumbersome process by fusing decades of estate planning expertise with great design, empowering firms of all sizes to grow their offerings at scale.

The Great Wealth Transfer What Large Advisory Firms Need to Know Blog

Vanilla

Oct 14, 2021

The Great Wealth Transfer: What large advisory firms need to know

We are on the brink of the largest transfer of wealth in American history. In the next 25 years, as much as $84.4 trillion from 45 million U.S. households will be passed down from older Americans to their Millennial and Gen X inheritors. This exchange of wealth and change in who the wealthy demographic is will dramatically shift the landscape of wealth management across the U.S. The stakes are high for financial advising firms. Most firms have naturally focused on an older client base since they hold a significantly larger portion of wealth and have a higher interest in investments. If...

Webinar: future proof your business with direct indexing and estate planning Webinar

Vanilla

Oct 07, 2021

Future proof your business with direct indexing and estate planning

Nowadays, it’s not enough to focus your efforts only on investment management for your clients. A recent report from Accenture shows that clients want their financial advisors to offer guidance about complicated life choices. If you’re not delivering value beyond traditional financial planning, you may be missing an opportunity to differentiate in a rapidly changing landscape. This presents an opportunity for advisors to future proof their business and build deeper relationships by providing added tax and estate planning value in their offering. Watch leaders of Just Invest, F2 Strategy, AdvicePeriod, and Vanilla as they discuss how the future of financial...

Growing your business with estate planning: Part 1 - webinar Webinar

Vanilla

Oct 07, 2021

Growing your business with estate planning: Part 1

Thanks to innovators in the advisory space like Betterment, advisors are able to leverage technology to deliver a better experience to more clients. As the landscape continues to evolve, advisors are expected to deliver something technology cannot — a three-dimensional view of your clients’ finances, life and death included. Talking about what happens to one’s financial legacy upon death is an emotional conversation that requires trust and humanity. Fortunately, as the advisor, you’re in the best position to advise a client on their entire financial picture and how planning decisions impact other parts of their family’s finances. In part one...

Guide

Vanilla

Oct 06, 2021

Estate planning glossary

Estate planning is essential. It is also extremely difficult to understand for most people, including advisors. In this e-book you’ll find a dictionary of terms and definitions most commonly used by estate planning professionals.

Webinar Top 4 things every advisor wants to know about estate planning Webinar

Vanilla

Oct 06, 2021

Top 4 things every advisor wants to know about estate planning

Watch Aaron Klein, CEO at Riskalyze, and Steve Lockshin, Co-Founder at Vanilla, talk about what the impact of estate planning has for your clients, how Vanilla delivers a new experience by integrating workflows seamlessly between clients, advisors and attorneys, how Vanilla designed its product to remove UPL risks and more.

Estate Planning: The last frontier of wealth management webinar Webinar

Vanilla

Oct 06, 2021

Estate Planning: The last frontier of wealth management

Over the past decade, most RIAs have transitioned from an investment focus to a planning focus. But while financial planning has become table stakes for the modern advisor, estate planning remains a powerful means of differentiation. Before coming together to start Vanilla, David Hauser became Steve Lockshin’s client after selling Grasshopper for $170 million in 2015. With estate planning being the focus of the relationship, we will walk through the impact of estate planning from both the client and advisor’s perspective. With estate planning becoming more of a clear differentiator, Steve and David will discuss the current state of estate...

News Entry

Wealth Management

Sep 22, 2021

Michael Jordan’s First Direct Fintech Investment Is in Estate Planning

It was a routine call for Vanilla founder Steve Lockshin. He was talking with the head of the family office for one of his highest-profile clients, a billionaire known around the globe. During the call, Lockshin mentioned he was doing a capital raise for his estate planning startup and on the spot he had two additional investors. NBA legend Michael Jordan, who has worked with Lockshin for 25 years, was so impressed with the advice and leadership he received from Lockshin, that he decided to make his first direct fintech investment in Vanilla. He joined Curtis Polk, Jordan’s family office...

Here’s How Capital Gains Tax Changes Could Impact Your Clients’ Estate Planning for 2022 Blog

Vanilla

Sep 13, 2021

Here’s how capital gains tax changes could impact your clients’ estate planning for...

Estate planning is often treated as a “set-it-and-forget-it” topic, but it is vital—especially for wealthy clients—to stay on top of changes in law and in assets because failing to account for current tax law can put your heir’s inheritance at risk of significant reduction. Proposed capital gains tax changes will dramatically shift thresholds, making it more vital than ever for financial advisors to help their clients keep estate plans current and comprehensive. Historically, the step-up basis has been one of the strongest strategies for wealthy individuals to avoid paying capital gains taxes at death, but proposed changes to tax law...

Vanilla Raises $11.6 Million with Venrock, Announces High-Profile Partners, Welcomes Former Vanguard Group Chairman McNabb to Board Blog

Vanilla

Aug 30, 2021

Vanilla raises $11.6 million with Venrock, announces high-profile partners, welcomes former Vanguard Group...

Disruptive Estate Planning Startup Founded by Steve Lockshin Secures Funding Through Legendary Venture Capital Firm, Launches Partnerships with Orion and Addepar, and Welcomes F. William McNabb III, Former CEO and Chairman of Vanguard Group, as a Director. Los Angeles, CA, August 30, 2021 - Vanilla has raised $11.6 million in a Series A funding round led by renowned venture capital firm Venrock as it helps to revolutionize estate planning for households of all wealth levels and their financial advisors. Vanilla, founded by high-profile financial advisor and wealth management entrepreneur Steve Lockshin, is the first comprehensive, fully digital estate planning solution...

The Top 4 Estate Planning Questions Advisors Have About UHNW Clients Blog

Vanilla

Aug 13, 2021

The top 4 estate planning questions advisors have about UHNW clients

Ultra-high net worth (UHNW) individuals’ estates are inherently complex and far-reaching, so having a comprehensive estate plan is vital to ensure a smooth transfer of wealth between generations and avoid expensive legal battles at death. But that doesn’t guarantee that these UHNW individuals are any more educated on estate planning processes and pitfalls. Even though 64% of wealthy individuals place a high value on the legacy they can pass on to the next generation, a full 39% do not have a comprehensive estate plan, according to the U.S. Trust Insights on Wealth and Worth. As their trusted financial advisor with...

Top 5 Challenges of Estate Planning for Blended Families (and How to Solve Them) Blog

Vanilla

Jul 19, 2021

Top 5 challenges of estate planning for blended families (and how to solve...

Deciding who gets what after one’s passing is tough. According to a survey by Caring.com, only 42% of American adults have essential estate planning documents, such as a will or a living trust. People avoid planning for the inevitable for many reasons. But for blended families, a major reason is that estate planning requires more than a simple will. Many difficult questions come up: How do I ensure everyone is well taken care of after I am gone? Should I leave everything to my spouse and hope they take care of my children? How do I avoid disinheriting my children?...

How to Prepare for the Death of a Client Blog

Vanilla

Jul 08, 2021

How to prepare for the death of a client

You’ve built a solid financial foundation for your client, made investments with an eye on the future, and helped them strive toward making their financial goals a reality—but what happens once they pass on? Without preparation, the months following a client’s death can be a chaotic mess for a financial advisor. Assets need to be found, collected, and handed over to whoever is handling the estate. You put in hours of work, and in the end, you are left clientless, watching the assets you carefully tended for your client in life tangled in probate court and wasted on fees and...

Family Estate Planning guide Blog

Vanilla

Jun 14, 2021

Family Estate Planning: An advisor’s guide to helping clients transfer wealth to the...

As the financial planning industry anticipates the Great Wealth Transfer from baby boomers to their heirs, reports show that at least 80% of adult children and heirs will find their own advisors after receiving an inheritance. In other words, if you’re waiting until your client dies to introduce yourself to their family, you’ve waited too long to win their heirs as new clients. But there’s good news: family estate planning provides the perfect opportunity to connect with your client’s family early on and cultivate an ongoing relationship that can extend into the next generation. By anticipating their family’s estate planning...

Vanilla award on wealth management Blog

Vanilla

Jun 07, 2021

For the second year in a row, estate planning platform Vanilla named finalist...

June 7, 2021. New York, New York. WealthManagement.com has recognized Vanilla, an award-winning comprehensive estate planning platform, as a finalist for its 2021 Industry Awards for the second year in a row. Every year, WealthManagement.com’s Industry Awards recognizes companies that make an exceptional impact in the world of financial advisors. After reviewing hundreds of entries, the judges made up of top names in the industry carefully selected who they believe have supported the success of financial advisors to an outstanding degree. The criteria was based on quantitative measures of their initiatives—such as scope, scale, adoption and feature set—along with qualitative...

4 Core Estate Documents Blog

Vanilla

May 24, 2021

The 4 Core Estate Documents: What they are and why they’re essential for...

According to a survey from Caring.com, 2021 marks the first year that young adults ages 18-34 are more likely to have a will than those ages 35-54. COVID-19 seems largely responsible for this shift, but the pandemic hasn’t just impacted the younger generation. Participants of all ages agreed that the advent of COVID-19 has caused them “to see a greater need for estate planning.” As a financial advisor, this means you can expect more clients to turn to you for estate planning guidance in the coming days. With this influx of client needs, it’s important that you understand and can...

Naming the Right Fiduciary Trustee for an Estate Blog

Vanilla

Apr 22, 2021

The advisor’s guide to naming the right fiduciary trustee for an estate

One of the biggest estate planning mistakes people make is placing the power and responsibilities of a trustee in the wrong hands. Poor fiduciary selection can lead to family in-fighting, lengthy legal disputes, and a substantial loss of assets due to mismanagement. As a relationship-driven financial advisor, it’s essential that you understand the role of a fiduciary trustee and that you help your client select the right individuals or corporations to act as fiduciaries for their estate. A trustworthy, knowledgeable trustee helps safeguard the estate plan from mishandling and assures that beneficiaries get the full value of the assets. What...

Estate Planning Platform Vanilla Launches “Vanilla 2.0” Blog

Vanilla

Apr 14, 2021

Estate planning platform Vanilla launches “Vanilla 2.0”

April 14, 2021. Steve Lockshin’s Vanilla, a comprehensive estate planning platform, announces the release of “Vanilla 2.0” now available for new and existing users. Vanilla 2.0 is the latest version of Vanilla’s product offering designed to proactively manage the estate planning of an advisor’s entire client base. Vanilla is the first comprehensive estate planning solution that allows advisors to proactively monitor all of their clients, visualize existing planning, and take action through document creation. ‘Because estate planning can be so difficult to understand even with an experienced eye, Vanilla creates a way for us to bring simplicity to an experience...

Blog

Vanilla

Mar 26, 2021

Estate Planning Horror Stories: 5 nightmare scenarios that will scare you into action

Most ghost stories are about unfinished business. Whether it’s a spooky campfire tale or a literary classic from the dark imagination of Edgar Allen Poe, a horror story plotline remains the same: the spirits of the departed haunt the living because there’s an unresolved matter preventing the deceased from moving on. So what does all of this have to do with estate planning? A poorly made or forgotten-about estate plan is like a ghost: It leaves your client and their loved ones vulnerable to hauntings of the financial kind. When people in mourning have to deal with their deceased relative’s...

Why Financial Planning Clients Need Advisors to Collaborate with Estate Planning Lawyers (and How to Partner Up) Blog

Vanilla

Mar 22, 2021

Why financial planning clients need advisors to collaborate with estate planning lawyers (and...

It’s common for clients, financial advisors, and estate planning lawyers to treat estate planning and financial planning as separate entities. But financial plans and estate plans are closely intertwined. Without a well-made estate plan, all the financial goals a client achieves can fall apart. Sadly, a poorly made estate plan often leaves the grieving family to pick up the pieces. You can advise your client on strategies for maximizing assets, but for asset protection, they need an attorney. When financial assets change, so should an estate plan. An attorney can provide the legal expertise by recording and adapting the estate...

Estate Planning Is a Path to Client Retention Blog

Vanilla

Mar 08, 2021

In tough financial times, estate planning is a path to client retention

Financial advisors faced a down wave of change before the pandemic. Over the past year, that wave grew into a tsunami that continues to test advisor-client relationships. The most resilient firms — those that have retained at least 99% of their clients over the past year — understand the power of prioritizing relationship quality over quantity. According to a 2020 Price Metrix report from McKinsey, advisors with the highest levels of client retention “have deeper relationships and fewer client relationships.” While they serve fewer households, advisors with low attrition rates manage more accounts per household. One of the most powerful...

Vanilla investment news finalist Blog

Vanilla

Feb 08, 2021

Estate planning platform Vanilla named finalist in InvestmentNews’ 2021 Innovation Awards

February 8, 2021. New York, New York.—InvestmentNews has recognized Vanilla as a 2021 Innovation Award finalist. Vanilla, along with twelve other firms, were chosen as finalists from several hundred nominations by a committee of InvestmentNews representatives. The judges recognized firms for their creative and novel systems that help financial advisors take care of their clients, run their businesses, and boost client outcomes. ‘Show your clients you care about more than their money.’ — VANILLA Each of the advisors, executives, and firms who made the fifth annual InvestmentNews Icons and Innovators list were chosen from a rigorous selection process designed to...

Costly Risks That Come With Free Estate Planning Documents Blog

Vanilla

Feb 02, 2021

Top 6 costly risks that come with free estate planning documents

Tempted to give your clients free estate planning documents to create a will, trust, or other after-death protections? Think again. Free estate planning documents come with risks that may ultimately cost clients and their heirs more than they saved in legal fees. Let’s take a look at some of the significant — and expensive — problems that using free estate planning documents could cause. 1. Excluding family members from a will Free DIY wills don’t always tailor an estate plan to an individual’s circumstances and goals. This is particularly the case for blended families and new additions when it's easy...

New Estate Tax Complications: How to Prepare Clients for the Big Shift Blog

Vanilla

Jan 26, 2021

New Administration, New Estate Tax Complications: How to prepare clients for the big...

As the U.S. gains a new president and a new majority in the legislative branch, proposed changes to the federal estate and gift tax will transform the way wealth passes from one generation to the next. For wealthier families, this means the loss of allowances they’ve benefited from under a looser estate tax regime. As a financial advisor, the possible changes provide an excellent opportunity for you to deepen relationships with your clients. This quick guide will help you educate them on what to expect and offer guidance on how to navigate newer, more stringent estate tax regulations. Changes in...

Estate Planning Demystified How We're Using Design to Create a Better Estate Management Process Blog

Vanilla

Dec 21, 2020

Estate Planning Demystified: How we’re using design to create a better estate management...

An estate plan is the story of someone’s legacy. But for advisors and clients alike, that story is hidden under layers of arcane legal mumbo-jumbo. At Vanilla, we’re using visual design to cut through complicated legalese and illustrate the crucial details of estate plans. We call this simplified, diagrammed approach to estate management “estate reporting.” Using our design studio roots to reimagine estate planning We see many of the broken processes in estate planning as design problems. Most of our founding team have strong graphic design backgrounds, so we approach problem-solving in a more visual way. As designers, our process...

Blog

Vanilla

Dec 11, 2020

7 Major reasons why estate planning isn’t a ‘set it and forget it’...

Imagine that you're having your first consultation with a new client. You ask them whether they have an estate plan in place. They proudly tell you that they drew up a will and assigned guardianship as soon as their first child was born — 25 years ago. Job well done, next question — right? Not quite! Let's examine why treating an estate plan as a one-off task comes with significant risks that could end in nightmare scenarios for your client and their family. 1: Beneficiaries and fiduciaries are often temporary While your client may express a desire to designate loved...

Blog

Vanilla

Dec 02, 2020

“How do I get a medical power of attorney for my adult child?”...

  With more young adults living with their parents now since the Great Depression, families with college-age children need questions answered about where parents’ legal rights begin and end. As a financial advisor, you should be ready to answer the questions your clients have, such as “how do I get a medical power of attorney?” and connect them with the documents they and their adult children need to protect their families. This concise guide will help you point your clients in the right direction. “What are the legal realities of my child turning 18?” When a young adult turns 18,...

Traditional Estate Planning Blog

Vanilla

Nov 18, 2020

Traditional estate planning has an inclusivity problem. Here’s how to fix it.

It’s sad and shocking to learn that beloved actor Chadwick Boseman died recently without a will. At no point did he draw up documents to ensure his loved ones knew his wishes for how to handle his near-million-dollar estate after he was gone. Chadwick Boseman is just the latest in an ever-growing list of Black public figures—and famous people from other marginalized groups—who left an enormous positive impact on the world but left legal strife for their loved ones. If so many extraordinarily successful people die without a clear plan for what should happen in the event of their death,...

We're Disrupting Estate Planning Here's How and What's Next Blog

Vanilla

Oct 28, 2020

We’re disrupting estate planning: Here’s how and what’s next

There are no do-overs when a person needs their estate planning to go into effect. Sure, financial advisors and attorneys can help them plan ahead of time, but when they need their estate plan to kick in, there’s no opportunity for revisions and no last-minute chance for planning. Knowing the impact that a lack of planning can have on a family is why I joined the team that, in 2019, created Vanilla. Vanilla started as a client project at our design studio and has since transformed into a company that makes estate planning more efficient, easier to understand, and accessible...

Who Needs Estate Planning Everyone, No Matter the Excuse. Blog

Vanilla

Sep 25, 2020

Who needs estate planning? Everyone, no matter the excuse.

Who needs estate planning? Everyone. But a lot of people avoid estate planning because they think they’re too young, they’re too busy, they feel estate planning is too expensive or too complicated, they’ve done it once in the past and don’t think they need to again, or they just don’t believe they have anything to plan for. The costs of making excuses not to estate plan can be high. Failure to plan means probate could keep beneficiaries in court for years while their assets are frozen and expenses mount. It could even mean that those they worked hard to take...

Check if Estate Planning Documents Are High Quality Blog

Vanilla

Sep 16, 2020

How do I know if estate planning documents are high quality?

As a financial advisor, you may be uncertain about the myriad of estate planning documents clients use, and which to recommend for the best possible financial outcomes for your client. Estate planning documents come in all shapes and sizes, but good planning documents need to address specific, important details. To help you sort through your clients’ paperwork, here’s how to discern if all those forms are well executed, high-quality estate planning documents. High-quality estate planning documents are updated regularly Thinking about the future and completing estate planning documents is an excellent first step, but your client’s financial situation is bound...

Vanilla Awarded Technology Disruptor in WealthManagement.com Industry Awards 2020 Blog

Vanilla

Sep 11, 2020

Vanilla awarded Technology Disruptor in WealthManagement.com Industry Awards 2020

September 10, 2020. New York City, New York. - Today, Vanilla was presented with an award from the 6th WealthManagement.com Industry Awards under the category “Disruptors: Technology.” ‘A near record-breaking number of nominations and companies participating in 2020.’ — WEALTHIES The WealthMangement.com Industry Awards recognizes companies that make an exceptional impact in the world of financial advisors. Companies who make a true difference in the day-to-day success of financial advisors. This year, more than 200 companies were nominated across 73 different categories. Companies ranging Carson Group, Fidelity Investments, Morning Star Inc, and more, competing in categories like Asset Managers, Disruptors,...

I Sold My Last Company. Now I’m Building Another to Help Entrepreneurs Plan for the Future Blog

Vanilla

Sep 04, 2020

I sold my last company. Now I’m building another to help entrepreneurs plan...

By the time I sold my third company, Grasshopper, to Citrix in 2015, we had bootstrapped the company from virtually nothing to more than $30 million in annual recurring revenue. We spent 12 years refining our technology and more importantly, helping other entrepreneurs succeed and build their own companies. For many entrepreneurs, selling their company is the end goal. An acquisition by a major multinational might prompt some founders to start thinking how they’d spend their time—and money—once the ink was dry. For me, selling my company made me think about my own death and what I’d be leaving behind—and...

outdated estate planning practices Blog

Vanilla

Aug 24, 2020

How outdated estate planning practices can cost you and your clients

Estate planning is evolving. In a shifting landscape, financial advisors need to demonstrate value to their clients. One of the best ways to help your clients is to educate them about the risks of outdated estate planning documents, which, if left unchecked, can lead to serious consequences for them and their families. Of course, the estate planning process itself is somewhat outdated. Financial advisors often have no visibility into the conversations clients are having with third-party attorneys, creating an opaque, disconnected system with many moving parts. It’s difficult for financial advisors to offer the best advice when they can’t see...

Start Talking to Your Clients About Death Blog

Vanilla

May 19, 2020

Financial Advisors: Start talking to your clients about death

Thanks to recent technological advances, basic investment management doesn’t cut it for your clients anymore. You’re expected to deliver something technology cannot — a three-dimensional view of your clients’ finances, life and death included. Talking about what happens to one’s financial legacy upon death is an emotional conversation. It requires trust, and it requires humanity. If you can manage to have that conversation, your clients might learn that their investment returns aren’t necessarily worth much to their family without proper estate planning. People who pass away without properly planning their estate leave their family susceptible to years of legal hassle....

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