4 Core Elements to an Estate Plan
This content is for information purposes only and should not be taken as financial advice. Every effort has been made to ensure the information is correct and up-to-date at the time of writing. For personalised and regulated advice regarding your situation, please consult an independent financial adviser here at Castlegate in Leicester, Lincoln or other local offices.
When it comes to passing on your wealth to your loved ones, having a strong estate plan is crucial. Not only does it help to mitigate unnecessary taxes; it also assists with preventing future complications with inheritance tax (IHT) and with the distribution of your estate to beneficiaries.
Here at Castlegate, our financial advisers in Leicester and in the wider Midlands wanted to offer this short guide, outlining 4 key aspects of estate planning. We hope you find this content to be of use and interest.
If you would like to discuss estate planning or your own financial plan with us here in Leicester, please get in touch to arrange a no-obligation consultation, at our expense:
#1 Estate planning for families
Here at Castlegate, an important part of our financial advisers’ estate planning work involves preparing your wealth for safe future passage to your loved ones. This covers all of the assets you hope to one day bestow to your family including property, cars and investments.
Typically, this involves crafting a legally-airtight will which specifies who will get what after you die, rather than leaving your estate to the UK’s intestacy rules (which might not distribute it according to your wishes). Quite often, our team here in Leicester will also help clients with establishing Power of Attorney, which helps you to designate a trusted person (or people) to make decisions for you about your estate, should you no longer want or be able to make those decisions yourself.
#2 Estate planning for IHT
Planning your estate properly helps to ensure that more of your wealth goes to the intended recipients, rather than to the taxman. Part of your plan might involve using life insurance to help settle a future IHT bill, for instance. For many people, the overall cost of the premiums can reasonably expected to be lower than the likely future IHT bill, making the policy a sensible financial decision for reducing IHT. However, others may be better off simply paying the bill themselves if they have the liquid capital available.
Another approach leverages the UK’s rules about annual IHT exemptions to gifts, which in 2020-21 allows you to give away up to £3,000 per tax year. There are also a range of other possibilities which our Leicester-based financial advisers can outline to you!
#3 Business planning
If you own a business (whether as a sole trader or otherwise), then estate planning will be especially important to ensure that your plans for the business are respected.
It can take a while to prepare your business for future succession, either to your children or to other trusted people. Not only do these people need to have the drive and passion to take on that responsibility, but they also need sufficient experience and training to take the helm.
Areas that you will need to discuss with a financial adviser include the possibility of retaining any investment in the business, and how this will affect your estate for IHT purposes. It is also a good idea to seek advice if you are considering releasing capital from the business, especially if the business will need to raise extra capital to make this possible.
Finally, transfers of shares and other business assets can also greatly affect your estate’s exposure to IHT. Again, you will get the best information and peace of mind to make these decisions with the help of a qualified, experienced financial advice professional.
Many people are under the impression that trusts are an estate planning tool only open to the very wealthy. In fact, they can also be useful for people in the Basic Rate and Higher Rate tax brackets, especially for reducing IHT and accessing more flexibility than making an outright gift.
Placing assets from your estate into a trust effectively transfers ownership of those assets to your trustees, thus eliminating them from the value of your estate. However, the tax rules do vary depending on the type of trust in question, and how you use them. A financial adviser will be able to help you navigate these complex rules, and find the best solution for your needs.
A trust can be particularly useful for those considering life insurance as a means to mitigate a future IHT bill, as it helps to ensure that the payout itself is excluded from the value of your estate. Otherwise, the lump sum from your policy might be subject to IHT as well!
Trusts can also be helpful if you want to pass wealth on to your loved ones, but retain a degree of control over when this is received and how it is used. For example, you might want to restrict your grandchild’s use of a lump sum for university, or for a deposit on a first home. You might also want to withhold certain assets from your loved ones until they reach a certain age, or achieve a particular life milestone.
Estate planning can be immensely liberating for people. Not only does it give you a sense of achievement to organise your wealth into the most tax-efficient position; it also provides great peace of mind knowing that your assets will one day be distributed according to your wishes.
If you are interested in discussing your own financial plan or investment strategy with us at our Leicester office or other locations, please get in touch to arrange a no-commitment financial consultation at our expense: