Vanilla Estate Planning Platform Is Anything But

A company started by a veteran advisor and backed by investors including Michael Jordan has added features to its estate planning platform.

By Rethinking65

A company founded by longtime financial advisor Steve Lockshin and backed by well-known names including Michael Jordan has added new features to its estate planning platform for financial advisors.

The company, Vanilla, says its platform is the first fully-integrated model of an estate, bringing together family, financial, and estate planning data in one place. A key new feature announced Tuesday, April 18, is Projections, which lets advisors input rates of return and timeframes to project beneficiary flows and estate taxes. The resulting projections allow financial advisors to drive a bigger-picture conversation with their clients about the impact of their legacy, the company said in a press release.

The company also announced Vanilla Academy, which includes on-demand estate planning courses led by industry experts. Vanilla tapped attorney Stephen Wallace, partner at Accelerant Law, and Dominic Cozzetto, senior advisor at AdvicePeriod, as its first instructors. The academy also plans to feature advisors, trust and estate attorneys, behavioral psychologists, and other professionals to help financial professionals navigate difficult conversations with their clients.

The Vanilla Estate Advisory Platform offers visualizations of estates, beneficiary summaries and projections, estate tax projections, a balance sheet integrated with personal finance management tools, and an on-demand report builder. Vanguard Group, Mariner Wealth Advisors, Balentine, and Avantax are already using the platform, Vanilla said.

“By simplifying the complex process of estate planning and helping clients understand how their legacy will benefit their heirs and community, advisors can deepen client relationships and connect to the next generation,” said Gene Farrell, Vanilla’s CEO.

Lockshin founded Vanilla in 2019. Venrock and Insight Partners provided funding. Farrell, formerly of Amazon and Smartsheet, joined as the company’s CEO in December 2021.

Other investors include F. William McNabb III, former CEO of Vanguard Group; Michael Jordan, NBA legend and businessman; and Jason Wenk, advisor and founder and CEO of Altruist. Vanilla launched its beta product to a group of advisors in 2021 and introduced a more robust estate planning platform last fall.

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