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6 Estate-Planning Must-Haves

Planning your estate is about sorting out your finances and property for the future. It’s making sure that what you own goes to the right people when you’re no longer here. This article talks about six must-haves in estate planning. These steps will help you manage your estate properly and make things easier for your family and loved ones.

Understand Your Assets and Their Locations: 

When planning your estate, the first step is to know what you own and where it is. This includes everything like your house, savings, and even things like art or jewellery. It’s important because different places have different rules about who gets what when someone dies. 

For example, if you own a house in another country, the laws there might decide who gets it, not UK laws. Also, where you live and where your stuff is can affect your taxes. Knowing all this helps you plan better and make sure your wishes are followed​​.

Consider Future Care Needs: 

  • Assessing Care Costs: Think about the costs of future care, like care homes, and make sure you have enough money set aside for this. It’s key to plan for these expenses to ensure your comfort and well-being in later life.
  • Impact of Giving Away Assets: If you plan to give away your money or assets, consider keeping enough for your own care needs. This is especially important if you have a health condition that might require costly care in the future​​.
  • Legal Advice for Care Planning: It’s a good idea to get legal advice when planning for future care. A professional can help you understand your options and make a plan that ensures your needs are met without affecting your estate plan negatively​

Pension Planning: 

Pensions are an important part of estate planning. In the UK, pensions aren’t counted when working out inheritance tax. This means you can pass your pension on to others without them having to pay tax on it. But, this only works if you have enough money and don’t need your pension for your own retirement. 

So, it’s good to think about your pension and how it fits into your estate plan. This way, you can help your family more and save them from paying extra tax​​.

Gifts and Potentially Exempt Transfers: 

Giving gifts is a simple part of estate planning. You can give away up to £3000 a year without paying tax on it. If you don’t use this allowance, you can carry it over to the next year, but only once. Gifts from excess income are also tax-free if they don’t change your lifestyle. 

You can give gifts to your spouse or charities without paying tax. But, if you give a big gift and then die within seven years, the gift might count as part of your estate for tax. It’s a good idea to get help from a professional when planning big gifts to make sure you do it right and don’t pay extra tax​​​​.

Using Trusts: 

When it comes to estate planning, trusts are a good way to secure wealth so that it can be distributed to family members. A trust is a legal setup where trustees look after assets for the people who will get them later, called beneficiaries. You can use a trust to manage how and when your assets are given out. For example, you might set up a trust to provide income for your kids or to keep your house for your spouse. 

When you put assets in a trust, they aren’t counted as yours anymore. This can help reduce the inheritance tax your estate might have to pay. Trusts are a bit complex, though. It’s a good idea to get advice from a professional who knows about them to make sure you set them up right​​​​.

Lasting Power of Attorney: 

  • Setting Up Lasting Power of Attorney: A lasting power of attorney (LPA) lets you choose someone to make decisions about your money if you can’t do it yourself. This could happen if you have a serious accident or illness. You can decide if your LPA can be used right away or only if you can’t make decisions yourself. It’s important to think carefully about who you choose for this role​​.
  • Registering an LPA: You don’t need legal help to set up an LPA. You can fill out forms online or on paper, and then register it with the Office of the Public Guardian. But, it can be helpful to talk to a solicitor or financial adviser to make sure everything is done right​​.

In Summary

In conclusion, estate planning is key to ensuring your assets are managed as you wish. By considering these six must-haves, you can make informed decisions about your estate. Remember, getting advice from experts like financial advisers can help you navigate complex areas like inheritance tax and trusts.

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