Desert Financial Credit Union offers Estate Planning solutions to their members which improves the member’s financial well being and their own bottom line.
Desert Financial Credit Union was founded in 1939 and now has over 432,000 members, $8.4 billion in assets, 47 branches and is operating in 5 counties in Arizona.
Desert Financial strives to provide products and services to the community to make lives better both today and going forward into the future. Their members are top priority. In 2022, they were recognized by Forbes and named Best-in-State Credit Union 2022.
Credit Unions today face many challenges: pressure from the fluctuating economy, the need to increase non-margin revenue, regulatory requirements (fee reduction), competition from banks, attracting and retaining members and staying current with technology and user experience.
The executives at Desert Financial are always looking for ways to improve their business operations and provide better service to their members. Like other Credit Unions, they also need to find ways to engage their members and keep them coming back for more.
To further engage members and add value, Desert Financial needed increased visibility into their member’s assets/estate, family structure and future goals so they could recommend add-on products and services within the Credit Union. At the same time, Desert Financial was receiving Estate Planning questions from their members and it was evident that they were in need of education and access to turnkey legal services. Because Desert Financial did not have an Estate Planning program in place, they were hesitant to embark on a new program that involved Estate Planning solutions but they also were certain that they were at risk of member’s looking elsewhere for services.
Although many members do not have a high net worth and are in the lower income category, they still feel the need to protect their assets and plan for the future. According to a recent study, 67% of Americans do not have an estate plan in place. Members need education on how to control the distribution of assets after their death, a plan in the event they were incapacitated due to illness/accident and determining whether or not they need a trust. For example, managing estate taxes, shielding assets from creditors, avoiding probate expense/delay, setting up a fund in the case of self incapacity, sharing assets in a domestic partnership and providing benefits to a charity are all examples of the type of information that members are seeking. In general, members are unsure of the process and are intimidated about the cost for services.
Desert Financial offers Estate Planning education and preparation services for people in the state of Arizona. They implemented an in-house Estate Planning program to educate their members on products such as revocable living trusts, wills, powers of attorney, health care proxy, deeds conveying real property into and out of trusts and beneficiary deeds for conveyance of real property at the time of passing.
Desert Financial’s Estate Planning program has grown into an operation that includes consultations with members that provide customized in depth education, an outline of the member’s assets and goals and a draft review of the legal documents. With a thorough understanding of their member’s personal situations, they are able to steer them towards other beneficial products and services.
With over 50,000 estate planning transactions completed since the program’s inception in 2005, Desert Financial outgrew their existing workflow solution. To continue to scale their Estate Planning program (and revenue), they partnered with Legal Karma* to leverage technology, increase service, improve efficiency and minimize outgoing costs. For the members that prefer to begin their process online, Legal Karma powers a fully integrated, Desert Financial branded digital experience directly through their member portal.
Desert Financial chose Legal Karma because of their powerful document automation workflows and turnkey digital customer experience. With the help of Legal Karma, Desert Financial now has a tool that will help exceed member’s expectations and their own leadership. It is estimated that by using Legal Karma, their team will save 10,000 hours per year. The bottom line is more revenue at less cost.
*Legal Karma enables Credit Unions to embed a white labeled suite of legal product offerings directly into their existing member portals, automated document workflows and turnkey member support services.
The Estate Planning program was intended as an add-on service and profit generating endeavor to contribute to the Credit Union’s bottom line. An added bonus, offering this service helped to better the lives of their members.
Having Desert Financial leadership buy-in and commitment was imperative to the success of the Estate Planning program launch. One of the key driving factors behind leadership buy-in was the holistic approach for members.
This question: “Is it legal for a Credit Union to provide Will and Trust products?” is commonly asked. The answer: “Yes, because we aren’t providing “legal services” but rather legal education and guided templates that help users draft their own documents.”
Desert Financial has created a program that provides a valuable, holistic service that keeps existing members engaged, generates new member referrals, creates opportunities for cross-selling within the branch and increases non-margin revenue.
Desert Financial has been working on this program for several years. They started out with a new program that was intended as an add-on service and they soon realized that the program had larger potential in terms of improving the lives of their members and increasing the Credit Union’s non-margin revenue. Over the years, their program has grown in size to what it is today. All signs point to continued growth in the future.
Offering Estate Planning services is a natural fit for Credit Unions as they care about their member’s financial health and they strive to create new non-margin revenue. Further, many Credit Unions prefer to offer these services in house vs. referring to outside entities so they keep the member and their business in the Credit Union’s sphere of influence. Programs like this are made possible with support from an outside technology partner that does all the heavy lifting and makes it possible to create a private branded experience for members.
Drawing from their past experiences and learnings, Desert Financial partnered with Legal Karma to create new workflow automations and digital customer experiences that will increase efficiency, minimize costs and grow their program to new heights.
Desert Financial is a clear leader and pioneer among Credit Unions with their in-house Estate Planning program.
If you are interested in learning more about how Legal Karma can help your organization boost an existing program or implement a new Estate Planning program, please click here or contact us.