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Discussing death with your clients: effective techniques and advice

Posted by Kings Court Trust | Oct 14, 2019 11:18:36 AM

Death still remains to be a taboo subject and people avoid talking about it. Whether that’s discussing what they want to happen when they die with their family, or speaking to a professional (such as a Financial Adviser or Will Writer) about plans to protect their legacy when the time comes. People typically still find talking about death uncomfortable and struggle to bring it up as a topic of conversation. Almost 60% of people do not have a Will in place, which makes you wonder whether that is due to this stigma surrounding death.

When it comes to discussing death with your clients, it can be difficult to approach the subject. Therefore, this blog post offers practical advice about how you can approach the topic with your clients.


The stigma surrounding death – Expectation vs reality

1. Tread carefully

It’s not easy to discuss death so you will naturally want to tread carefully. As important as it is to be sensitive and approach the subject with care, it’s also wise to make it clear how you can help them when there is a death.

2. They won’t be receptive to the conversation

Many professionals expect that those grieving won’t be receptive to the conversation at the difficult time of losing a loved one. However, in reality, it’s likely to be their first opportunity to get practical advice and speak to someone other than their loved ones. You can explain what needs to happen, what they can do and how you can help.


Language techniques

The way you approach the conversation can make a significant difference to the family and you as their ongoing adviser. Every circumstance will be different so you should always remain open-minded and be ready to adapt your typical conversation.

When talking to people on a day-to-day basis, whether that be a friend, work colleague or client, you will often ease into the conversation by asking “how are you?”. If you’re speaking to someone dealing with a bereavement, we’d recommend avoiding this question. It may seem obvious, however, it’s easy to slip into your normal routine of conversation.

Your role is to advise your clients or their families on the practicalities of what do after death, so we advise keeping it professional and focused on the tasks that need to be considered.


Client emotions

Sometimes clients may get emotional in front of you and it’s important to be sympathetic to the situation and keep them comfortable. We’d recommend just sitting and listening because people will usually fix themselves. After which, you should ask them whether they’d like to reschedule or continue with the call or meeting.


If you want to find out more techniques and advice for discussing death with your clients, our recent webinar, hosted by our Technical Manager, Nigel Merchant, goes into even more detail about how to approach the subject with your clients. Click here to watch the webinar. 

Topics: Estate Administration, Business Advice