Many of us set New Year’s resolutions, whether a new fitness goal, quitting a bad habit, or learning a new skill. However, putting in place steps to protect the future of your estate could be one of the most important accomplishments you achieve this year.
Like any goal, knowing when or how to start can be one of the biggest hurdles. Estate Planning is no exception. We go through some of the steps you should take when estate planning and why it is so important.
What is Estate Planning?
Put simply, it’s putting in place arrangements for all your affairs to be looked after in the event of death or incapacity.
When is the right time to start planning my estate?
As an adult, you are never too young to get your legal affairs in order. Taking the time to consider what will happen to your assets after you pass away, whilst not always comfortable to think about, is a critical question to ask yourself. Specific milestones such as getting married, having children, making new investments, acquiring assets, or a change in financial or personal circumstances are all important life events that should encourage you to start estate planning or to make amendments to existing arrangements. If you do not have any legal documents in place or have recently gone through a new life milestone, it is even more important to start now.
Why is estate planning important?
It is the only way you can make sure your wishes are followed, and your loved ones are taken care of in the event of death or incapacity. Early planning can protect your loved ones from heartache or deliberation when dealing with your estate. Without the correct documents in place, trying to do this can be highly complex, lengthy, and costly. Furthermore, if you die without a Will, your assets will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy, meaning only a spouse or certain relatives can inherit if you lose capacity your spouse or loved ones do not automatically have the right to make a decision or handle your affairs. Having correct legal documents set up will make it less stressful, ensure that your wishes are met. You can also look at ways to potentially minimise the tax charged on your estate. Estate planning can ensure:
· You control what happens to your assets
· You control who administers and manages your estate
· Mitigates inheritance tax
· Avoids inheritance disputes
What should be included in an Estate Plan?
You can include various legal documents and detailed wishes in your estate plan. What to include will likely depend on what assets you currently have and where these are located, and your current personal circumstances. Depending on your estate planning goals, some of the most crucial components of your plan can include:
Seeking expert advice from a regulated professional will ensure that you have considered all the various options open to you. No two estates are the same, so it is essential that your estate plan is tailored to your situation and assets and includes all the crucial elements that will protect you and your loved ones.
Can I create these legal documents without a Solicitor?
Whilst there are online or DIY services available, which can allow you to set up various legal documents such as Wills or Lasting Powers of Attorney without legal help, this approach can be risky and often end up costing far more to resolve than the initial legal fee charged if prepared correctly. It is not uncommon for mistakes to be made which can invalidate the document or end up causing a dispute. If you make a will that is not legally valid, the rules of intestacy will decide how the estate will be shared out, and not the wishes expressed in your will. Seeking legal advice can help establish if an estate is simple or complex and the most appropriate solutions for you. Ensuring you have received the appropriate advice regarding Inheritance Tax rules is also important, so you are aware if they apply to your estate and the options open to you to mitigate any tax implications. Even if you think your estate, and how you wish this to be distributed is relatively straightforward, getting the right advice can prove invaluable. Getting a regulated legal professional to guide you through the process of setting up your documents can give you and your loved one’s peace of mind that everything is in order and has been done correctly.
Speak to our legal team regarding Estate Planning and Asset Protection
This can be a complex area of law and it can be difficult to know the best route to take whilst ensuring any tax consequences have been taken into consideration. Our Head of Department Sally-Ann Joseph is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners and a fully accredited member of the Solicitors for the Elderly.
We will work with you to carefully evaluate your assets and your goals to provide bespoke solutions that protect your estate.
If you would like more information about effective estate planning and asset protection, our Estate Planning lawyers in Kingston and London are here to help. Contact us for a consultation or call