How Financial Advisors Can Approach End-of-Life Cost Conversations with Clients

Written by

Amy Liebaert

The passing of a loved one is a difficult time for their family and friends: yet, in the midst of grief there are cost considerations to be taken into account. With average end-of-life expenses costing thousands and extensive paperwork taking hundreds of hours, families are left feeling shocked and overwhelmed. At Cadence, we understand that “cost of death” conversations can often feel uncomfortable, but recognize their importance in preparing clients both financially and emotionally for the inevitable. Through our Legacy Planner, we offer your financial advisory clientele practical solutions to assist in organizing their affairs, ultimately minimizing the burden of cost for their family. In this blog, we will explore step-by-step ways to navigate end-of-life cost conversations with your clients. We will also investigate how Cadence alleviates the complicated process in order to benefit everyone involved.

1. Breaking Down Costs

When discussing end-of-life costs with your clients, be sure to highlight the three main costs that executors and their families encounter.  Explaining the extent of impact that unpreparedness has on families will help clients understand the importance of pre-planning for the future.


The estate settlement process is one that often takes families by surprise: an unexpected cost that can arise is the emotional toll this process can take on a grieving person. Demanding responsibilities and extensive paperwork cause executors high anxiety levels. Research has shown that this settlement anxiety often triggers a range of intense emotions, cognitive impairments, weight fluctuations, and unconventional sleep patterns1.


In a recent survey conducted by Cadence, it was found that estate settlement takes an average of 245 hours, with post-death paperwork alone taking 127 hours. Tedious processes, confusion, and miscommunication often lengthen the time executors spend on the estate. This job-like commitment and high pressure situation is heightened by the fact that administering an estate can be a multi-year process. 


Following the passing of a loved one, families are immediately faced with the cost of a burial, cremation, or other obsequies. These processes are expensed at anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 on average. Beyond this initial cost, clients must fill out countless documents regarding account closures, government settlements, and legal matters. These documents frequently become overwhelming for clients resulting in the need for hiring legal help. In circumstances where a lawyer is hired, requiring them to complete executor duties leads to additional costs. Many lawyers charge upwards of $400 per hour or through a case-by-case rate that ranges from 2.5% to 5% of the estate value2.

2. Explain the Benefits of Pre-Planning

Many clients may not think about end-of-life costs until it's too late, or until they realize their preparations are inadequate. However, as a  financial advisor, it's essential to discuss the importance of preparing for these costs and having a plan in place. By planning ahead and having the necessary documents in order, clients can:

  • Better manage their finances and assets through all of life’s changes,
  • Help minimize the complications and costs that estate settlement brings forth, and
  • Avoid the stress and additional time brought forth by searching for essential information

Families will also have a clearer idea of their responsibilities moving into estate settlement, thus reducing the need for costly outside assistance.

3. Discuss How Cadence Revolutionizes Pre-Planning

With Cadence’s Legacy Planner, your clients have the opportunity to pre-plan their affairs with ease through guided steps tailored to their current life events and changes along the way. Our service allows clients to gather key information and documents, update details as necessary, plan their seamless hand-off to an executor, and collaborate with their trusted advisor along the way. Clients who take advantage of the Legacy Planner will not only be assured that their appointed executor avoids long hours sorting through paperwork, but also experiences less responsibility related stress and unexpected assistance fees. For clients with more complicated estates, Cadence can help provide a starting point for document preparation, thus decreasing the initial organizational workload for lawyers.


Cadence believes that pre-planning should be made more accessible and that estate settlement shouldn’t be a burden. Our services make it easy for clients to take control of their financial affairs and plan for the future. By providing tailored service, collaborating with professionals, and offering meaningful touch-points with clients, we ensure that your clients and their beneficiaries are taken care of every step of the way.

Want to see how Cadence will complement your business and minimize end-of-life costs for your clients? Book a demo here.

1. “Cost of Dying Report,” Empathy, 2023. 2. Heath, Jason. 2020. “Death and Taxes: Estate Settlement Can Cost Money, Time and Relationships.” Financial Post. April 21, 2020.