Key Takeaway

After a robust discovery phase and a four-locality pilot, the CFE Fund determined that Financial Empowerment Center financial counseling is a strong vehicle to support legacy planning activities.

The lack of intergenerational wealth transfer is a driving force preventing residents with low incomes from building wealth. Additionally, in many localities, because of both historic and current systemic racism and other barriers, Black residents and other residents of color experience more financial instability than White residents: as just one example, Black households have an average of one-fifth of the assets of White households. In response to this critical need, and with funding and partnership support from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative, the CFE Fund and four local governments partnered on a novel effort to build Black people’s ability to transfer wealth to future generations by integrating estate planning, or “legacy planning,” into existing FEC counseling services.

In this brief, the CFE Fund provides an overview of the findings from the pilot study showing the positive impact of integrating legacy planning into FEC financial counseling. The CFE Fund’s Legacy Planning pilot demonstrated that FECs can play a unique role in helping clients, including Black clients, engage in legacy planning – ensuring that clients can achieve their longer-term financial goals and have an opportunity to transfer wealth across generations. By adding legacy planning services to FEC financial counseling, FECs can play an important role in supporting racial wealth equity.

Additional Takeaways

During the pilot, legacy planning appealed to a range of FEC clients. Clients of all ages, income levels, and employment statuses wanted to engage in legacy planning activities at the FEC.

An overwhelming majority of FEC clients did not already have traditional legacy planning tools: over 90% of clients did not have a will, power of attorney, health care proxy, or trust; 72% of clients did not have life insurance; and 54% of clients did not have beneficiaries named on all their financial and insurance accounts.

An overwhelming majority of FEC clients confirmed that their FEC financial counselor was an appropriate, trusted messenger to start a legacy planning conversation: 88% of clients said their counselor was sensitive when discussing legacy planning, 97% said their counselor was informed about key issues, and 88% of clients said they would refer family or friends to the FEC for legacy planning.

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