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Estate Planning - Don’t Fall Foul To Assumption

Meticulous planning of your estate is crucial to a smooth transition of your assets and this part of your family wealth should be regularly reviewed and reconsidered as developments occur both internally and externally.

In June this year Investopedia updated its 4 Reasons Estate Planning Is So Important blog post. Using this and current trending material, below we offer several insights into what can go wrong if you rely on assumptions in your estate planning and why it is important to keep it up to date.

Old Estate Plans May Be Harmful To Your Wealth – Forbes

stack of papers with folder labelled income tax, and calculator and pen

Whilst this article is centred around the 45th Annual Notre Dame Tax and Estate Planning Institute’s conference hosted in Indiana, in bringing together some of the country’s top estate planners, it also provides interesting insight into estate planning that we could all take heed of.

Of particular note, it identifies the fact that an estate plan should be considered like a will, and updated regularly giving several life changing or potential influences that might cause you to reconsider your estate plan. In addition it offers some often encountered scenarios where not all avenues are explored or considered by the estate planner writers owing to a misunderstanding or miscommunication between them and their beneficiaries – highlighting the need for good communication and the exploration of all possible outcomes in estate planning.

‘My Wife Was 20 Years My Junior. Her Death Left Me On The Verge Of Being Homeless’ – The Telegraph

older person's hands holding a walking stick

In August this year Mr. Paterson told his story to the Telegraph of how making assumptions in his much younger wife’s estate planning had left him on the brink of homelessness. Despite a large age gap, it should never be assumed that just because one person in a marriage is older, that they will die first.

This story provides a good reminder of what to consider when planning futures where a large age gap between spouses is concerned, as said by Mr. Paterson himself, “Sometimes inheritance tax planning and trusts can come with huge implications and unforeseen barriers when life flings a curveball”. As a warning to others that may end up in the same predicament, he offers suggested avenues to explore for those couples that could end up in a similar position to himself if they don’t pay due attention.

Stepsister Wins Legal Battle Over Which Parent Died First – The Guardian

Another article highlighting the need to ensure that you don’t make assumptions about your circumstances of death. This article follows the devastating legal battle between two stepsisters where the entitlement to their jointly owned estate depended on the sequence of their parents’ deaths.

But what if it is impossible to tell who died first? In this case the couple involved were found at their home in Leigh-on-sea, Essex, having both seemingly suffered from hypothermia. But it could happen to anyone, for example in the form of a car crash, or sinking ship. This article explores and highlights the implications of section 184 of the 1925 Law of Property Act, which deals with the “presumption of survivorship”, and how it can be navigated.

Key Takeaway

Getting estate planning right is a tricky business and one that should be consistently considered for amendment in light of changes in your own life, those around you as well as external implications. As noted by Ruth Jackson-Kirby, “don’t leave a family feud as your main inheritance”. The best way to go about this is to ensure that all avenues are thoroughly explored and effectively communicated within the family to prevent any nasty surprises at the point of death.

If you are considering estate planning or would like to find out more, do please get in touch with one of our expert advisors.

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