Fidelity Labs: Planning for the ever after

Estate planning. There’s nothing fun about it. It’s time consuming, expensive, intimidating and depressing. It’s hard to find a trustworthy attorney, and stressful to discuss with a spouse. What’s more, the very word “estate” conjures up images of billionaires on yachts. As a result, two-thirds of Americans who should have an estate plan don’t.

Yet estate planning is incredibly important. It protects not only assets, but also family harmony, and even yourself when you add in the health care and legal provisions during your lifetime. Fidelity wanted to help customers get this important job done, but how?

Getting going

The Labs team started by talking to people who didn’t have estate plans to find out what was holding them back. They learned that even people who felt they needed an estate plan didn’t know where to start. They were unfamiliar with the components of an estate plan, and the legal terminology, and the idea of going into an attorney’s office unprepared was unsettling.

In response, the team developed an educational website that doubled as a convenient way for customers to get their information in order for an attorney meeting.

Making a difficult process easier

Another key issue that surfaced was that consumers didn’t know where to find an attorney, or even how to judge what made one qualified. They told us they wanted a Fidelity attorney because they trust us, but we’re prohibited from doing that because we’re not a law firm. Instead, the team assembled a curated list of attorneys from which customers could select someone to work with in preparing their estate plan.

Building guardrails through the process

Through additional research, the team learned that a lot of people start the estate planning process but never finish it, due to confusion about the steps involved and what they all mean. So, we gave Fidelity Financial Consultants the tools to help people make the changes needed to their accounts so that they lined up with the choices made in their estate plan.

A surprising cross-incubator collaboration

One challenge the team confronted was figuring out how to transfer the information the customers entered into the website over to the independent attorneys. By talking with colleagues across Labs, the team realized that FidSafe, an incubator created to help people store financial documents, could transfer the customer information over to attorneys.

A slow roll with quick turns

With a service ready to pilot, the team started by offering the service in just six Investor Centers. With continuous refinements based on feedback, the pilot ultimately expanded to four states (MA, RI, AZ, FL) with a total of 53 associates in 10 branches, 59 attorneys at 20 firms, and more than 400 customers participating before transitioning to Fidelity’s Wealth Planning and Personal Trust group for a national rollout. And in December 2016, the Fidelity Estate Planner was launched to all Fidelity customers.

From pilot to production

During the pilot, customers and associates alike were given lots of positive feedback. Financial Consultants (FCs) said the service allowed them to have an actionable discussion about estate planning. As one FC said, “It cemented relationships … They know that Fidelity is guiding them through the process.”

Fidelity unable to offer customers meaningful, actionable assistance with estate planning.

A comprehensive service to guide customers in understanding and navigating through the estate planning process.


Decades of disruption

Learn more about Fidelity Labs  


We average 12 patents a year.

We created the first investing app for a smartwatch.

We make prototypes with everything from pom poms to fly swatters.

Our work spaces are flexible and ever changing.

We have offices in the US, India, Ireland, China, and the UK.

We own 2 of the first 50 NVIDIA DGX-1 artificial intelligence supercomputers.