Aging baby boomers are reshaping the future of probate law. As this huge group of U.S. citizens has grown older, they’ve inched the nation toward an unfortunate new milestone: One-third of U.S. counties now have more deaths than births.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that deaths will increase dramatically in the coming decades, peaking in 2055 and leveling off gradually thereafter. To put it in perspective, consider this: In 2037, 1 million more people will die than in 2015. That’s 1 million more estates to be managed with the help of a probate lawyer.
Shifting Your Business Strategy
For those in the legal field, this could mean a shift in strategy toward practicing probate and estate law. Aging baby boomers and their families will need help planning their final affairs, and every family will simply have more deaths to manage than the previous generation had.
Probate law is becoming a tricky new part of the vocabulary for millions of people as they cope with concern for aging loved ones. About 55% of Americans have no will or estate plan, nor do their parents. In fact, probate law is one of the least-understood aspects of the U.S. legal system.
Research shows the vast majority of people have a limited understanding of common probate terms like living trusts, trustees, next of kin, power of attorney, legal guardianship, and gifting of assets. People turn to probate lawyers for advice and education on these topics.
Your Customers: The New Sandwich Generation
When considering this new customer base, keep in mind that this is also a time when the children of baby boomers are facing massive student loan debt, the highest mortgage debt of any generation, and meager savings.
Although average credit scores are on the rise overall, they’re dipping for Generation X, which is the new “sandwich generation” - caught between aging parents and almost-adult children who remain financially dependent on them.
This means more Americans than ever will be seeking high-quality, affordable probate law and estate planning services in the coming decades. Millions of busy, cash-strapped couples who want the best for their aging parents will need legal advice and guidance.
In many cases, these new probate customers will already be managing a complex array of other needs too: elder care concerns, doctor’s visits, Medicare and health care bills, transportation, and the day-to-day responsibilities of careers and families. A probate lawyer can relieve an important burden during a critical stage in a client’s life: reliable legal assistance for executors and beneficiaries.
More Americans than ever will be seeking high-quality, affordable probate law and estate planning services in the coming decades.
Thinking Like a Marketer
Lawyers who position themselves as reasonably-priced yet highly skilled will likely outshine their competitors in the coming decades. It’s important to remind potential customers that probate lawyers’ fees come out of the estate, not out of their own pockets, so it can actually be an affordable process for them. That’s a great selling point.
Seize the opportunity to educate and inform potential probate clients. In the marketing world, it’s called conversion - attracting interest and converting people into paying customers. Here are some tips for accomplishing this in the field of probate law:
- Create quality educational content for people struggling to understand probate and estate terms: blog posts, Q&A videos, live chats, webinars.
- Join the discussion on social media.
- Explore digital advertising, which can be a low-cost way to improve your visibility in a new legal category, like probate or estate law.
- Make sure you’re using search engine optimization (SEO) to get found online.
- Share online testimonials and reviews, which 84% of people trust.
- Partner with a strategic marketing firm to create an effective business development plan.
Does your legal firm need a shift in strategy to prepare for the future?
Connect with Bridges Strategies and let’s talk about a fresh success strategy.
About the Author
Jake Fisher is partner at Bridges Strategies. He specializes in inbound marketing, B2B sales and multicultural communication. He enjoys good food and bad golf. You can follow him on Twitter at @jakefisher