A lot of people might think that estate planning is an extremely complex process. While it certainly can be – we’d recommend always speaking to a professional! – the fundamentals of estate planning are fairly straightforward.
Having a good grasp of these fundamental ideas will help you in your estate planning journey. Thinking about each of these things will make it easier when you do speak to a professional about your will, as you’ll have a good idea of the kinds of things you need to decide.
So, read on to find out our top 5 estate planning fundamentals. These are the vital things you need to consider to make sure your will is accurate and meets your needs, so take the time to think carefully about each one.
1. Have an accurate inventory of all of your assets
The first step is one of the most important. Without an accurate inventory of all of your assets, it’s nearly impossible to plan your estate properly – surprises and unexpected things are guaranteed to crop up and cause issues down the line.
So, it’s vital to make sure you’ve gone through all of your financial documents and kept accurate records of your physical possessions as well as things like stocks and shares. Properly accounting for all of these things will lessen the chances of any arguments or issues further down the line.
2. Consider your family’s needs
The next step is all about careful thought when it comes to the needs of your family and friends. If there are things that you can leave to people that will genuinely help them, think about including it specifically in your will.
While many people simply leave a set % of their assets to each family member equally, there’s nothing wrong with allocating specific things according to who has the most need for them. Just remember to be clear in your will about what’s been left to who. It’s also worth having open and honest conversations with your family members ahead of time, as explaining your wishes carefully will help stop people from arguing after you’ve gone.
3. Think about the tax implications of your will
The estate planning tax rules can be complicated, so you might need a professional’s help with this part. But, having said that, it’s still worth taking some time to think about the tax implications of how you divide up your estate.
There are specific ways to divide up your estate that can reduce the tax burden, or make sure that you pay tax in a fairer way. Speak to an estate planning professional for more details about this, as it will vary depending on your specific situation.
4. Plan for the worst
It might not sound like the most pleasant task, but a big part of estate planning is all about planning for the worst. What are your wishes if you fall seriously ill and aren’t able to take care of yourself? Who do you want to look after your children if you die suddenly?
It might sound a bit macabre, but it’s a fundamental part of estate planning, and you’ll be really glad you’ve done it. It’s a great way to get peace of mind that, should the worst ever happen, your friends and family will understand and respect your wishes.
5. Reassess in the future
Our last estate planning fundamental is that you should plan to reassess your plans in the future. Ideally, this should be done on a regular basis, for example every 3 to 5 years.
Take stock of your previous plans and consider whether your circumstances have changed. Make sure you add in any new assets and remove any that you no longer have. Consider if your wishes have changed, and make sure they still meet your needs.
Ensuring your estate plan is fully up-to-date is one of the most important things you can do – an out of date will can lead to lengthy difficulties with sorting out your last wishes.
For help with your estate planning, speak to Face to Face Estate Planning. Our experts can take you through the entire process, from wills to trusts, always offering friendly and helpful advice and taking the time to understand your situation.