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MetLife (MET) to Provide Estate Planning Via Willing Buyout

Zacks Equity Research

MetLife, Inc. MET and Bequest, INC (d/b/a Willing), a leading digital estate planning service, have entered into a pact pursuant to which the former will acquire Willing.

Digital estate planning is the process of organizing one’s digital property and assets and making arrangements for what should happen to that property after one’s death.

This transaction complements MetLife’s existing legal services offering called Hyatt Legal. The deal will position the company as an industry leader in offering customers with estate planning services.

The deal, which is set to close this year, will broaden MetLife’s Protection business. The company plans to make the services available to its group customers.

Digital estate planning service is going to gain traction in the coming years given the fact that legal documents and information relating to property and other assets are increasingly being stored in digital form.

Though this new mode of storing property information is safer than the traditional methods (which included collecting details in a folder or a binder in a person's office, safe, or desk drawer), it has its own drawbacks.

Papers made it easy for the survivors to find information about the deceased person’s legacy. But the same becomes difficult to access in digital mode as most of the times the information is not centralized.

Decentralized data means information are from different sources of property including bank accounts, real estate holdings, mutual funds or other investments and each of these are available separately.  This can make managing and distributing assets difficult after the person’s death and can lead to confusion for the family members, denial of access, and even an inability to locate the accounts or information in the first place.

Given the growth potential of the estate planning services, MetLife’s expansion in this business will likely aid its revenues.

Year to date, shares of the company have gained 19.2% compared with the industry’s growth of 14%.

MetLife carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Some better-ranked stocks in the same space are First American Financial Corp. FAF, NMI Holdings Inc. NMIH and RLI Corp. RLI. In addition to carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), these stocks have surpassed earnings estimates in the last four quarters by 12.2%, 8.39% and 154.9%, respectively, on average. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

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