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Convincing Commitment-Phobes

Get estate-planning prospects to commit to their priorities during the first minutes of the interview.

By Donald R. Burkall, CLU, ChFC

When working with an estate-planning prospect, I used to have problems at the close when we started to talk about the cost of insurance premiums. People want to help their children as long as it doesn’t cost them anything.

To solve this problem up front, I make them commit to their priorities during our first minutes together by writing in big letters on a sheet of paper: children, charity and Uncle Sam.

I hand them the paper and pen and ask them to write one, two and three next to these words in the order in which they want their money to go. I won’t proceed until they’ve done it. This exercise solves the question of whether it’s OK to have their children inherit $2 million while Uncle Sam gets $1 million.

Donald R. Burkall, CLU, ChFC, is with Northwestern Mutual Financial Network in Chapel Hill, N.C. Contact him at 919-401-0323 or at


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