Legacy planning in 2021: key points to help you start or update your plans
Planning your legacy can be a daunting task, even in more “normal” times.
You might have a large or complex estate, or challenging family dynamics – while the intricacies of today’s taxation system only add to the complexity!
We understand how important it is to individuals that the wealth they have strived to earn and to grow throughout their lifetimes is preserved for future generations.
Since the Covid-19 crisis began, many people have felt prompted to reassess and update their plans, or to start planning for the very first time. Here, we’ll look at key considerations which can help you to begin or to progress your legacy planning…
Making a start
Valuing your estate is an important starting point: begin with your home, and include any other property you may own, your shares and investments, money and savings, business assets, cars, jewellery and other items in your possession. You’ll need to deduct from this any debts and liabilities, such as any mortgage remaining on your home, loans, credit cards and funeral expenses.
Make your wishes known
While successful estate planning certainly includes having a valid Will in place, in many cases an adviser will recommend establishing a Trust – a legal arrangement where your money or other assets are managed on behalf of your beneficiaries. Trusts can provide greater control over who receives the assets and when they receive them.
Another step to take early on in your planning is to set up lasting powers of attorney (LPAs), covering ‘health and welfare’ and ‘property and financial affairs’. In doing so, you’ll need to consider who you would wish make important financial and medical decisions on your behalf if you were unable make them for yourself. Outdated or “stale” documents may be difficult to use, so you should seek to execute fresh ones.
(Remember these documents are used when you are living. Once you have died, the power of attorney and health care proxy are no longer valid; this is when your will comes into play.)
In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, some leading experts in the field of estate planning have advocated creating a special file containing your most crucial estate planning documents which can be easily taken with you should you need to go to the hospital – you could even go digital and place the documents on a thumb drive.
The files should include your health and welfare power of attorney, financial affairs power of attorney and key contact information. You could also include a list of the medications you are currently taking. Most important among these are your medical documents, without which those caring for you at the hospital won’t know your wishes for medical treatment, or who should help make decisions on your behalf.
Inheritance Tax (IHT)
As you plan your estate, you should seek expert advice on the ways you can pass on your assets to the people you want, via the most effective and tax-efficient means possible.
Estate planning can be used to reduce the amount of IHT payable, enabling you to pass on more of your assets. The current IHT nil-rate threshold is £325,000 for individuals and £650,000 for a married couple or civil partners. Any unused portion of the nil-rate band can be passed to a surviving spouse or civil partner on death. IHT is usually payable at a rate of 40% beyond these thresholds.
A main residence nil-rate band (currently £175,000) may also apply if you want to pass your main residence to a direct descendant.
If you have surplus income, you could consider gifting money to the next generation. Professional advice on the current rules is recommended, to ensure gifts are made in the right way to qualify for relevant exemptions, so that IHT is not chargeable on them later unless the rules change.
Help with your estate planning
As part of our comprehensive approach to financial advice, we provide legal support by way of referral to a panel of selected solicitors. This allows our clients to rely on us for advice on virtually any financial concern or life event, and to feel at ease that we will have the advisory services and expertise to help see them through.
Connecting you with trusted legal advisers is just the beginning. We will work with you to ensure your planning around your legacy, family business and other affairs works in complement to your wealth, property ownership and/or investment planning. We take a comprehensive approach, because amid life’s twists and turns, it’s good to know support is there whenever you need it.
To speak with a member of the team call 0161 764 9944 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Financial Conduct Authority do not regulate estate planning. The Financial Options Group guides clients to achieve legacy planning as part of their wider financial planning. We refer clients for legal support to a panel of third party providers who are independent of CJP Financial Services.