Estate planning: 6 easy ways to safeguard your assets and your family’s future
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How to plan your estate, protect your family and secure your assets in six simple steps.
Robert France, co-managing director and Wills, Trusts and Probate solicitor at HRJ Foreman Laws Solicitors, shares how you can begin preparing for the future, today:
1. Write your Will and name your beneficiaries
Decide what will happen to your estate following your passing. You can appoint guardians to care for your children, leave a donation to charity and choose your beneficiaries.
Don’t leave writing your Will until later life – there are several key moments when writing or updating your Will is important like after buying your first home, having a child, getting married or moving in with a partner.
2. Set up a Trust
Carefully drafted Wills can help protect part of your estate against care fees should a surviving partner or spouse require care later in life. Setting up a Trust for your partner can enable them to enjoy the estate while protecting its capital value for the next generation.
A Trust is also a great way to put funds aside for young children to inherit when they come of age or for a vulnerable beneficiary that may need managed access to their inheritance.
3. Seek advice about inheritance tax
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There’s an inheritance tax (IHT) threshold, known as the nil-rate band (NRB) which currently protects the first £325,000 you can inherit from tax. Anything after that is then usually taxed at 40 per cent.
Married couples or those in a civil partnership can transfer the unused part of the NRB of the first partner/spouse to their survivor, meaning up to £650,000 can be inherited free of tax following the second death.
In April 2017, the residence nil-rate band (RNRB) was introduced allowing part of the estate or property included in the estate (from July 2015) worth up to £175,000 to be passed on to direct descendants, tax-free. This is also transferable between spouses and partners.
There are other IHT exemptions, such as charitable donations and gifts. We recommend seeking legal advice before gifting, to ensure it’s conducted legitimately. Our Wills, Trust and Probate team can advise each client based on their circumstances.
4. Appoint a Lasting Power of Attorney
There’s an assumption that a ‘next of kin’ will automatically be able to make decisions for a loved one, but this isn’t always the case. By putting in place Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) you’re providing legal authorisation for someone you trust to act on your behalf.
Your attorney can make financial or health and welfare decisions for you, in case you’re no longer able or lack capacity. Vulnerable people that have been self-isolating during Covid-19 were able to rely on their LPA to pay their bills and visit their bank.
5. Name an executor of the estate
An executor is responsible for handling and distributing your estate after your death. We’re seeing an increasing number of clients asking us to act as their executor, as they want a neutral third party to administer their assets.
We’re more than happy to do this and to support a family member that’s been appointed as an executor. We’ll work with you to manage the Probate process following the death of a loved one. A Grant of Representation (also known as a Grant of Probate if there’s a Will) is usually required before the assets can be passed on to any beneficiaries.
6. Take expert estate planning advice
We like to chat with our clients first – in person, by video call or phone – to get to know you and understand your circumstances. We can address any concerns you may have, answer questions, find the best solutions for you and offer valuable insight to make estate planning easy. You never know what’s around the corner, but with our support and advice, we can help you plan for the future.
HRJ Foreman Laws Solicitors have offices in Hitchin, Welwyn Garden City and Letchworth Garden City.
Visit hrjforemanlaws.co.uk for more information.
Call 01707 887 700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment.