Planning how you’ll pass your estate to loved ones can be challenging, both practically and emotionally. But taking some steps to understand how you can efficiently achieve your goals, can make them more likely to become a reality.
From writing a will to discussing potential inheritance with loved ones, estate planning is a task that many put off. However, it should be considered an essential part of your financial plan that’s just as important as putting money into pensions or checking the performance of investments.
There are many benefits of estate planning, among them:
1. Understand the value of your estate better
Financial planning should help you understand the value of your estate and how this might change in the future. Taking a look at what assets you have to leave behind for loved ones and considering how they’d be distributed can help with this. Cashflow modelling can show you how wealth and assets will be depleted over time. This can help give you an understanding of the inheritance that you can leave or where you may want to make lifestyle changes in light of this.
2. Minimise potential Inheritance Tax
Is your estate likely to be liable for Inheritance Tax (IHT)? If the total value of all your assets exceeds £325,000 IHT may be due, reducing the amount loved ones will receive from your estate. However, there are often things you can do to reduce or eliminate an IHT bill. However, this requires a proactive approach and you should take steps to do so as soon as possible. From setting up a trust for some assets to gifting to charity, an effective estate plan can mean leaving more behind for loved ones.
3. Calculate the sustainability of your income
You might have a clear idea of what you’d like to leave behind for family and friends. If so, how does this correlate with the income you’re already taking or plan to take? Estate planning can help you reconcile your income with legacy plans. It’s also an opportunity to assess how sustainable your income is over the long term. If your expenditure remains the same, how much would you leave behind if you lived ten years beyond the average life expectancy, for example?
4. Help loved ones plan for the future
Research from Royal London suggests that almost 6.5 million adults refuse to discuss their will with loved ones. Whilst it can be difficult to talk about your estate plan, it can help loved ones prepare for the future. Letting beneficiaries know how much they can expect to receive through inheritance can improve their personal financial security. Without a discussion, they could make inaccurate assumptions that affect them long term. It’s a step that can give you peace of mind about their future too.
5. Support loved ones now
As you look at what you’re likely to leave behind for loved ones, you may realise you’re in a position to offer financial support now rather than leave an inheritance. As life expectancy rises, some beneficiaries are finding that inheritance is coming too late to help them tick off financial milestones, such as paying off the mortgage. Providing support to children and grandchildren now could have a larger impact than receiving an inheritance. Of course, you need to ensure that offering gifts won’t have a negative impact on your lifestyle in later years and you should consider the IHT implications.
When should you review your estate plan?
You might think once complete an estate plan is finished, but, like any other part of your financial plan, it’s important to keep going back to it. Over time, your aspirations and financial positions will change, which should be reflected in your estate plan. From needing to pay for care costs to welcoming grandchildren, your initial plan may be very different from what you want in five years’ time. As a result, it’s wise to review it regularly alongside other financial plans and make adjustments where necessary.
If you’re thinking about how you’ll pass wealth on to loved ones, please contact us. Our goal is to give you complete confidence in your financial situation now and in the future.
Please note: The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate estate and Inheritance Tax planning.
This post was written by John Davies