What is Estate Planning?
Estate Planning is the process of arranging for how you would like your estate distributed upon your death. Estate Planning typically attempts to eliminate uncertainties over the administration of probate by writing a Will, and maximize the net value of the estate by reducing taxes where possible. Guardians are often designated for minor children and beneficiaries in incapacity.
Good Estate Planning is much more than that, however. It should also:
- Include instructions for your care if you become disabled before you die
- Name a guardian and an inheritance manager for minor children
- Provide for family members with special needs
- Include life insurance to provide for your family at your death, disability income insurance to replace your income if you cannot work due to illness or injury, and long-term care insurance to help pay for your care in case of an extended illness or injury
- Provide for the transfer of your business at your retirement, disability, or death
- Minimize taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees
- Be an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Your plan should be reviewed and updated as your family and financial situations (and laws) change over your lifetime
When should I start thinking about estate planning?
The only answer to this is now.
Estate Planning is not just for retired people, although people do tend to think about it more as they get older. Unfortunately, we can’t successfully predict how long we will live, and illness and accidents happen to people of all ages.
Estate Planning is not just for the wealthy either, although people who have built some wealth do often think more about how to preserve it. Good Estate Planning often means more to families with modest assets, because they can afford to lose the least.
Individuals put off estate planning because they think they don’t own enough, they’re not old enough, they’re busy, think they have plenty of time, they’re confused and don’t know who can help them, or they just don’t want to think about it. Then, when something happens to them, their families have to pick up the pieces.
What happens if I don’t have a plan ready?
At your death: If you die without an intestate (i.e. without leaving a valid will), your assets will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy. This is a set procedure of distributing your estate to your surviving relatives and may mean that your estate is not distributed according to your wishes. If you have no surviving relatives then ultimately your estate will go to the Crown. If you have an estate plan ready, you have control of who receives what and when. Be it a family heirloom that you want to pass down to your grandchildren or money that you want to give your brother to pay off his home. An estate plan helps to keep you both yours and your families’ minds at peace in case the worst happens.
How can we help?
Here at Niche we can help arrange your estate appropriately so that it is distributed in line with your wishes. We can help with all of the different areas of planning from Inheritance Tax planning, will writing to assisting with the Probate process upon the death of a loved one.