Wills & Estate Planning is the final part in our 5-point plan series, looking at protecting asset value when we pass on.
Getting a Will is perceived in many different ways; from a negative point, you could say, why should I bother? The people left behind can pay my death duties. On a positive note, you could think about how you wish to use all the allowances to gift early to your loved ones. Ensure that the estate you leave behind will be left as tax efficient as it can be under the country’s laws where you are domiciled.
There is no right or wrong answer, and it is a personal choice, something we all have different thoughts about.
So what could you do to protect the estate you have worked hard to accrue?
Here are what we think should be considered as the essential points to put in place:
- A Will should be in the country where you reside. However, if you are an expat, you should also consider what happens if you have assets outside of the country where you live? It may mean that you need further Wills for the jurisdiction where the assets are held.
- Power of Attorney – something to assist your loved ones if you are no longer of sound mind in the later years of your life. It can be for financial reasons. Also, you could arrange one for your health and lifestyle choices, making sure that all are catered for.
- Clearly understand the rules of your country of Domicile; this is extremely important, primarily when assets are held outside of the country where you are residing, especially if they are fixed assets like Property, which may affect your Tax position.
- Any gift allowances, if applicable, use each year to offset your liabilities.
- Trusts – make sure that you understand the rules when placing assets into a Trust; who has ownership, the Trustees, beneficiaries and who can access what? Even a simple nominated beneficiary trust form to run alongside your Investment plans helps keep your affairs in order.
- Do you need to put Life Insurance in place to create an estate or legacy for your family? It may be an essential part of your planning; you must look at this as early as possible to obtain the best rates.
So what could happen if you do nothing? What if you die without a Will?
The intestacy rule based on UK law means that your assets are distributed to your relatives in strict order, and any unmarried partner or friends will be left out. To ensure your estate is distributed following your wishes, you must make a Will. In other countries, you should check this first before making any decisions. We recommend legal professionals to our clients to assist with these decisions.
What if I live overseas?
It is far more difficult when you live abroad, either as a retiree or a working expat. Although you will typically have different laws and rules to contend with, here is where you need to look at the whole of your estate and the places where you hold assets, both fixed and liquid.
It is fair to say that doing nothing is not an option when you are offshore, it can carry consequences for those you leave behind, and with language barriers, this is frustrating when people’s emotions are running high.
So what can you do now?
Having spoken to many law firms in the UK, Thailand and other jurisdictions, the clear advice is to have a Will in each area you have assets. We would highly recommend that you start with a Will in the country where you reside.
You may now be thinking, how do I sort my affairs out? The best way is to get in touch with us here at Corestone; we can help guide you to professionals regularly to create a valid Will.
Peace of mind is knowing that informed decisions are the best decisions.