It is often quoted that the only two certainties in life are death and taxes.
Taxes are something that one has very little control over, however the matter of how and where to dispose of one’s assets on death is something that can be ordered and planned. The essence of estate and fiduciary planning is not some blatant excuse for a life insurance salesman to try and sell one more life cover, but rather a planned strategy to ensure that one’s death causes minimum negative impact and consequences to loved one’s and allows them to grieve peacefully and then begin rebuilding their lives.
Many people complete and make a will when they get married and then neglect to review and update this document for the next 30 or so years. In that time their lives and wealth are far different from the day on which they were betrothed. There are countless cases where an out of date and non-relevant will has caused financial damage to the heirs and created a situation where these heirs are bound by the past legacy of the deceased and not freed to fulfil their own dreams and lives.
As life happens and the needs of a family become more complex and the level of wealth accumulated becomes substantial, very little time is given to a strategy that ensures that this wealth is efficiently and effectively passed on to the next generation.
Common FactorsTo be taken into account when putting together an Estate and Fiduciary Strategy:
The marital regime under which one is married. This has a fundamental impact on how the executor has to treat the assets of the deceased and his/her spouse.
Children, and whether they are majors or minors, and how they need to be catered for should the surviving spouse remarry.
Dependents, are there parents or other folk that depend to some extent or another on the deceased.
Blended families, the “his, hers and ours” scenario may need special treatment and sensitivity.
Quantum of Assets
Quantum of assets, the bigger the estate the more care should be taken in ensuring that the deceased wishes are accurately accounted for in the will.
Estate Duty and Capital Gains Tax
The draining effect that these taxes have on the estate needs to be quantified and included in planning.
First dying, last dying and simultaneous death. All three of these potential scenarios should be reviewed and the effects quantified in the planning.
Retirement funds are not included in the estate or covered by a will. However, these funds need to be included in any plan or strategy.
Involve the family and ensure that all stakeholder views are taken into account.
The Activ8 Group believe that a holistic family based approach needs to be taken to estate and fiduciary planning, with both legal, tax and financial expertise brought into the strategy.