When the term ‘succession planning’ is mentioned, we tend to think that it applies only to business owners, but it is just as important to cater for when we do our own estate plans. Most people do not expect to die soon and therefore postpone estate planning, which includes succession planning, until a very late stage in their lives; sometimes they don’t get the chance to do it as death can arrive sooner than anticipated. Having been in the fiduciary business for almost 100 years, we have dealt with the administration of many deceased estates during this time and have learned from the mistakes people have made. We therefore stress the importance of estate planning to our clients, explaining the advantages of doing it as soon as possible.
Often when we assist clients with their estate plans, it is evident that they think that they have planned sufficiently, until they learn about all the different matters that have to be taken into consideration and the implications of certain choices that they have made. Suddenly, they realise that there is more to attend to than what they had thought of, and they have not provided for their loved ones adequately.
Questions that need considering are:
- Who will care for my minor child when I am gone?
- Do I have to appoint a guardian for my minor child in my will?
- May I appoint someone other than my minor child’s father/mother as guardian when I pass away?
- Who will look after my minor child’s inheritance?
- Will there be sufficient funds available to provide for my minor child?
- Will it be adequate to provide for an education after I am gone?
- Will all my assets have to be reduced to cash when I am gone?
- Who will take financial care of my surviving spouse when I am gone?
- Have I provided adequately?
- I am the one making all the financial decisions. Will my spouse be able to do the same after I am gone?
- When do I consider a testamentary trust?
- What are the tax implications when I die?
Living together but not married
- Will my partner be financially secure after I am gone?
- Do I have to draft a will to take care of her/him or will she/he inherit automatically (intestate)?
- Can my partner claim maintenance after I am gone?
- What happens if I have minor children from a previous marriage? Will they all inherit equally if I die without a will?
- Do my minor child and partner each receive a 50% share of every item I own or can they choose what they want from my estate?
No one can really ‘step into your shoes’ after your death, but you can certainly ensure that your loved ones find themselves in the same financial position after your death than before. The above are only a few examples of questions that can be asked to help you to plan for the time that you may not be here any more.