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Estate Planning | Beyond the Will

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By Capital Partners Lifestyle

You might tell yourself. “I have a Will, so why do I need an estate plan?”

A Will is a useful document for your beneficiaries when you die, but an estate plan covers a great deal more than a Will can encompass. A properly constructed estate plan can protect your interests while you are still alive if you happen to be in a situation where you cannot advocate for yourself. You can also structure your estate plan to protect and support vulnerable family members after your death when you are no longer available to speak up on their behalf.

Maintain an up-to-date Will

If you die without a valid Will in place, you die intestate, which in turn can create complications and tension for your family that are best avoided. While the laws around this are intended to be as fair and equitable as possible, it is unlikely to reflect your true wishes and concerns. You also lose the opportunity to decide who oversees administering and making final decisions about your estate.

With a Will in place, you can be confident that your wishes will be acknowledged and acted upon following your instructions. Your Will should always be updated if your circumstances change.

Consider the complexities of your family

Every family is unique, with its own set of challenges and dynamics. An estate plan allows you to consider these intricacies, ensuring that each member is cared for according to their needs and circumstances. This could mean differentiating between providing a lump sum to one beneficiary who exhibits financial prudence and setting up an annuity for another who may not manage large sums wisely.

For families with complex structures or business interests, a family trust can be a strategic component of an estate plan. These trusts serve as protective vessels for your assets, safeguarding them from individual beneficiaries’ financial missteps while providing for current and future generations. Consulting with a financial adviser can clarify whether a family trust aligns with your estate planning goals.

Choose an executor who will respect your wishes

Your estate plan’s executor has a demanding role, where legal and tax knowledge would be beneficial. There can also be a great deal of emotional pressure if there is any conflict about your estate division between beneficiaries. You need to have absolute trust that your executor will honour your wishes as you have set them out in your Will.

While many people choose a close friend or family member to act as executor, others prefer to hire a professional executor, such as a solicitor or an accountant, to handle the high level of responsibility and the role’s complexity.

Remember all your assets

When you are writing out your Will, don’t forget to include everything of value – this covers property, investments, jewellery, artworks, collectibles, family heirlooms, and items of sentimental value. Keep your instructions specific. You should aim to make the distribution of your assets as straightforward and amicable as possible. If you forget to include a valuable piece of real estate or a diamond necklace, your family will argue over who has the rights to that particular asset.

Include an Advanced Health Directive

An Advanced Health Directive is a document that covers your wishes if you are incapacitated or terminally ill and can no longer communicate your wishes. For example, you could request that extraordinary measures such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should not be performed in certain circumstances. You can also appoint a durable power of attorney for healthcare, enabling someone you trust to carry out your end-of-life wishes. You can ask your lawyer to help you prepare this document and ensure it complies with the laws of your state.

Keep all documentation together and accessible

For the convenience of your executor and the peace of mind of your beneficiaries, make sure the following documents are kept together in a safe, accessible place:

  • Your last Will and Testament
  • Your advanced health directive
  • Your life insurance documents
  • Your investment records
  • The location of all your assets
  • The names and contact details of all your advisers

Our team is committed to supporting you through the complexities of estate planning, offering insights and solutions tailored to your unique circumstances. If you seek a second opinion or wish to explore the nuances of your estate plan further, we welcome the opportunity to discuss your vision for the future.

The information provided on this site is of a general nature only and may not be relevant to your particular circumstances. The circumstances of each investor are different and you should seek advice from a financial planner who can consider if these strategies and products are right for you.

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