In the previous article, we tackled about the first three steps in the Estate Planning Process. We discussed Step 1: Gathering Information about your estate, Step 2: Getting Your Information and Objectives, and the last Step 3: Identifying Your Beneficiaries. Now we will be discussing the last four steps that you need to learn. Without further ado here are steps 4 – 7 of the estate planning process.

Step 4: Distributing Your Assets

In the third step, your estate planner will ask you how you want to divide your tangible assets, as well as your intangible assets. Do you have special gifts to you want to give to a certain beneficiary, like let’s say you want to give your daughter your flat near the bay or your son your Bentley car? You need to be specific with your intention, and remember your gift will fail if the asset is no longer in your possession when you die. So if you sell your Bentley car, then your son will not be entitled to any earnings from the sale unless you state it so. This scenario is referred to as ademption and the gift that you have intended to give will be referred to as an “adeemed” or in simpler terms, the gift has been revoked.

Putting Delays and Conditions

You can delay giving your gifts to your beneficiaries, and you can link certain conditions before they can get their inheritance. Here are examples of such delays:

  • Hayley will get 100,000 dollars when she reaches the age of 20.
  • Dan will get 150,000 dollars the moment he finishes a college degree.

The conditions you will place should be flexible not “fixed”  to avoid problems that your beneficiaries might face at the time that they become entitled to your gift. Take for example if your beneficiaries are going through bankruptcy or divorce, your money might just end up in the hands of their creditors or in the hands of their spouse since it might be included in matrimonial assets.

Having Capable Trustees

You can choose to make a company as a choice for a trustee instead of giving it to a family member, and most legal court cases arise from the ill management of assets by family members. By making a company like Rockwills for example as your trustee, you can be certain that your assets will be managed and your spouse or children will reap the benefits. This is possible under the law through splitting the legal and beneficial ownership of a property to separate persons. The company you entrust your assets to will be the trustee. The trustee will be the legal owner of the property but the benefits gained will go to your spouse or heirs as the beneficial owners. Here is an example:

  • Mr. A makes LLC Company the trustee of his 30 million estates, and his wife Mrs. A the beneficiary. LLC Company manages his properties, making sure it is improving and expanding, the proceeds of the estate, as well as all benefits, are then given to Mrs. A.

Step 5: Choosing the Manner of Holding Your Estate

Your estate planner will discuss with you the various holding structures and ownership that you can make use of. Holdings could range from individual ownership to other holding forms such as companies and trust. This is the time you make your choice; your estate planner will create a table showing the ways your assets can be held. In the book The Rockwills Guide to Succession and Trusts in Wealth Management, you can find samples of estate planning templates that you can study and make use of.

Step 6: Implementing Your Estate Plan

It may take some time for you to make the decisions based on the estate plan that your planner has made, you might even procrastinate about it (which we recommend you don’t do). After your decision has been made, your estate planner will contact various estate planning professionals to be able to legally and correctly implement your plan. He/she will set up meetings between you and professional organizations to discuss their services and costs. Most professional organizations that your estate planner will be introducing you to will be made up of lawyers, accountants, and tax adviser or it could be a will writing company or a trust company. It can even be a corporate services company. Think of your estate planner as the general contractor building your house (estate plan) and all other professionals he/she calls as the sub-contracting specialists. Take note that the more experienced your estate planner is the better it will be for you.

“Most organizations will have application forms and the requirements to carry out mandatory customer due diligence under anti-money laundering regulations. This will involve the client furnishing information or their financial standing and particulars such as documentation relating to the identity and passport  details, proof of residential address through a utility bill and professional references from the client’s banker, practicing lawyer or accountant” – Chapter 3 of The Rockwills Guide to Succession and Trusts in Wealth Management

What this basically means is that you will be filing a lot of paperwork and passing a lot of requirements with the help of your estate planner. Your estate planner will act as the liaison officer between you and the professional organization you have chosen. And at this point, the whole implementation of your estate plan will be under the driving force of your chosen organization.

Step 7: Following Up On You

Your financial life can have turbulent times, or there can be changes in your health, it’s your estate planner’s job to monitor your situation and keep in touch with you always. He/she will periodically update you and jolt down modifications you want to do in your estate plan. It’s important that you coordinate with him/her still especially when it concerns annual fees, and if you have pending issues, you need to deal.

When the inevitable finally comes, you will be assured that your estate planner will help your grieving family through all the steps they need to take. A smooth execution of your estate plan depends on how well you plan it and the relationship you have with your estate planner.

Conclusion

The whole estate planning process can be exhausting but it’s good to know that you are not trudging it alone, you have your estate planner with you. And remember that estate planning allows for smooth and drama free transition of your assets between you and your loved ones.

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