Investing & Economy

More Estate Planning Needed

Two-thirds of Americans unprepared

Financial advisors are leveraging opportunities to broaden their planning portfolios by offering estate planning services to help clients address this significant yet underserved need.

Only one-third of Americans have created estate planning documents, according to 2021 Wills and Estate Planning Study conducted by and The COVID-19 pandemic led more young people to engage in estate planning in 2020, the survey found. However, the total number of adults who have prepared wills, healthcare directives, and related documents continued to decline from 2017’s 42%. One major factor in that shortfall: almost 8% of those surveyed did not know how to go about creating a will or living trust.

Addressing those needs has made estate planning a key focus area for Fortress Wealth Group in Orlando, according to President/CEO John Ledford. In addition to the firm’s RIA (Fortress Wealth), the group launched Fortress Family Office in January 2021. The family office provides full-service tax, insurance, and legal services, with the legal offerings primarily focusing on business incorporation and estate planning.

graphestate“We engage all of our clients in investment and financial planning processes that include estate planning,” Ledford said. “We're fully involved in making sure our clients have a strategic estate plan in place with the appropriate documents. We ensure all the documents are notarized and secured properly, and that any trusts will ultimately be funded.”

Rather than referring estate planning to an attorney or an external firm, Ledford explains, Fortress finds it more effective to manage the entire process in-house and alongside its partners. That part of the firm’s business has grown significantly as more clients engage in estate planning alongside traditional advisory services.

Digital assets have become a significant factor, he added, shifting the paradigm beyond traditional considerations. The firm maintains an asset ledger for all estate clients that document physical assets as well as digital assets including passwords, account access instructions, and digital currencies.

Tax planning is also a significant part of Fortress’ approach as well as estates, investments, and retirement.

headledford“Many of the complex strategies that we create around advanced tax strategies and legal considerations require a significant amount of client education,” Ledford said.

“Through our education process, we identify a critical path that allows the client to see the outcomes we are trying to reach. A well-educated client reads and reviews documents, asks the hard questions, and has more dynamic interchanges with advisors. Those are the best clients for us.”

Estate and tax strategies are part of a comprehensive range of services that include investments, insurance, small business consulting, and retirement planning. Ledford said the firm uses a variety of user-friendly tools to build client profiles. The Fortress suite of integrated tools helps determine asset allocations and risk tolerance, or model possible outcomes over a lifetime.

“One of the great advantages of doing business in 2021 is the access we have to incredible technology tools that assist us,” Ledford said. “We want to use the best technology, allowing us to customize and build outcomes and manage investments the way we want. We've built a best-in-breed technology stack that allows us to do our jobs extremely efficiently and better serve our clients.”

For more information on Fortress Wealth Group, visit


Related Articles

© 2017-2021 Advisors Magazine. All Rights Reserved.Design & Development by The Web Empire