Five Factors to Consider when Choosing the Right Estate Plan
By Rotimi Obende
The concept of Estate Planning dates to ancient civilizations, when people began to think about how their assets would be distributed after their death. In ancient Egypt, for example, people would often create a Will, which was a legal document that outlined their wishes for the distribution of their property. They would also designate heirs, who would inherit their wealth. This practice highlights the enduring importance of planning for the future.
Securing your future and those of your loved ones is of utmost importance, and you can achieve this by having an Estate Plan. Knowing and choosing the right Estate Plan can be complicated, as you will need to consider peculiarities and other factors that are specific to you alone. Because of the complex nature of Estate Planning, you will need practical advice and an expert institution to guide you. This article will explore the following five factors, offer practical examples, and provide valuable insights to assist you in effectively managing the Estate Planning process:
1. Define Your Goals and Objectives: To commence your Estate Planning process, it is important that you first define your goals and objectives. Think about your assets, consider how you want your wealth distributed, any philanthropic goals you may have, and other specific wishes you want fulfilled. For example, you may want to ensure that a portion of your Estate goes towards supporting education or healthcare initiatives. By clearly defining your goals, you can tailor your Estate Plan to reflect your values and intentions.
2. Seek Professional Advice: Estate Planning can be a complex process that involves legal and financial workings, which is why it is essential that you seek the guidance of an expert. There are a few estate planning institutions that can guide you and help you navigate the legal requirements and tax implications while ensuring that your Estate Plan complies with the current laws and regulations governing the jurisdiction where you reside. At FBNQuest Trustees, we are fortified with a team of experienced professionals that will ensure you choose the most suitable Estate Plan that speaks to your need. Our reliable advisors can assist you in making the right choices that safeguard your assets and ensure seamless transfer to your beneficiaries.
3. Determining the Right Instrument: With your intentions in mind, `professionals will provide tailor-made advice on the appropriate tools to adopt, which could either be Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney. For instance, a Living Trust allows you to manage and distribute your assets during your lifetime for your benefit and that of your loved ones. Even in the event of incapacitation or death, the Trustee must still adhere to the terms outlined in the Trust Deed. A Will, on the other hand, outlines your wishes for asset distribution and guardianship. This, however, only takes effect upon your demise. Understanding these documents will enable you to make informed decisions about their inclusion in your Estate Plan.
4. Consider Family Dynamics: When planning your Estate, it is crucial to consider your family dynamics. Let’s explore a typical scenario: You have a family-owned business that you wish to pass on to your children. However, you have one child who is actively involved in the business while the other pursued a different career path. In this case, you may want to structure your Estate Plan to ensure a fair distribution of assets, acknowledging the dedication and involvement of the child in the business. One possible solution is to establish a Trust that appoints a child who is skilled and knowledgeable in the business as a director, while the other child takes on a less active role or no role at all. The Trustee can then distribute profits according to the terms of the Trust Deed. By addressing these unique family dynamics, you preserve family harmony and ensure a smooth transition of both the business and other assets.
5. Regular Review and Updates: It’s crucial to understand that Estate Planning requires continuous attention. As life situations, laws, and financial conditions change over time, it’s essential to regularly review and modify your estate plan. Births, deaths, marriages, divorces, or financial status changes may require adjustments to your plan. It’s important to keep your Estate Plan current and in line with your desires. Regular reviews are a great way to ensure everything stays up-to-date and accurate.
Choosing the right Estate Plan requires thoughtful consideration, professional guidance, and regular reviews. By defining your goals, seeking expert advice, considering family dynamics, and fostering open communication, you can create an Estate Plan that reflects your wishes and secures a legacy.
Rotimi Obende is the Head of Private Trust, FBNQuest Trustees.