Will WritingThe Four Primary Goals of Estate Planning

20th December 2021

Many believe estate planning is just for the wealthy. However, the reality is that effective estate planning is an essential part of managing your assets and final wishes whilst trying to ensure your family’s financial stability once you have passed on.

Estate planning isn’t just for the elderly either. The fact is, you don’t have to be old to become mentally incapacitated or pass away early from an illness or even an accident. An estate plan will ensure that, in the event of your passing, that your affairs are properly executed.

If you own assets such as a home, investments and even possessions such as cars, valuable watches or jewellery, then estate planning handles all these details. You can even plan for future scenarios to include your health care as well as the welfare of any dependents such as children and even your pets! Of course – an essential part of your estate planning is also your ‘Last Will and Testament.’

The four goals of planning your estate are to: ‘Provide for Your Family;’ ‘Avoid Probate Issues,’ ‘Ensure Your Wishes are Carried Out’ and to ‘Protect Your Family.’

Provide for Your Family

Ensuring you family is financially secure, after your gone, is one of the most important aspects of estate planning.  Your estate plan will detail how your children, spouse and indeed any other heirs will receive their inheritance. Without a clear plan, not only will your estate be divided exactly as you wish, but also, it could well see you paying a great deal more in inheritance tax and most certainly it will result in a very protracted ‘probate’ process – which is the sorting out your financial affairs. Of course, not having a plan and indeed a Will in place could lead to potential of disputes amongst your family and a great deal of stress for them too.

Without a Will, you die in ‘testate’ – where the crown decides how your estate is divided – and if you are not married and without a Will – your partner and family could receive very little, presenting them with some very serious financial ramifications.

Avoid Probate Issues

As already stated, ‘probate’ is the legal process of sorting out your financial affairs. Without an estate plan, the process which can be lengthy at the best of times, will take a vast time period to conclude; in fact, without an effective estate plan or a Will, the process might never fully conclude with the bulk of your Will estate being detained / held within the ‘probate process.’ Sorting out debts, tax and who is to get what is never satisfactorily resolved. Once again, your family are the ones that suffer.

With effective estate planning, larger assets like property, investment portfolios and savings can be placed in ‘living trusts,’ giving you access to them whilst you are alive BUT exempting them from the probate process and allowing them to be forwarded to your chosen beneficiaries – in accordance with your Will.

Ensure Your Wishes are Carried Out

Your estate plan can include all your wishes such as funeral arrangements and what happens to your remains; even what songs, flowers or anything else that needs to be organised for the event. Basically, an estate plan and a Will gives your partner and family the guidance they need to make the kind of arrangements that you would prefer. It’s surprising how many spouses left behind suffer from high levels of stress – always wondering if they had carried out things as their partners would have wished.

Protect Your Family

Having an Effective Estate Plan in place, not only helps to protect the integrity of your estate – by minimising inheritance tax, but also, it help to protect your family by giving them a higher degree of financial security, greatly reducing the levels of stress they might be faced with in terms of sorting out probate and of course your Will.

By having a Will in place, you are protecting your partner – particularly if you are not married, since without a Will in place, your share of the home would not automatically go to him or her! This could have catastrophic financial implications in terms of inheritance tax, the family home and your partner having somewhere to live.

Furthermore, if you are unmarried and have children from a previous relationship living with you, a Will ensures that you can nominate your current partner to be their guardian. Without a Will, the crown decides the fate of your children!

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Copyright © Dunham McCarthy 2022

The Four Primary Goals of Estate Planning

The Four Primary Goals of Estate Planning