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Business News/ Money / Personal Finance/  Remember these nine steps for putting in place an effective estate plan

Remember these nine steps for putting in place an effective estate plan

It is important to appoint a nominee when you buy an asset or make an investment

Here are nine things to remember when planning your estatePremium
Here are nine things to remember when planning your estate

As we celebrate the Navratri festival, we should remember that one of the things it teaches is conquering fear. Given the pandemic situation, fear is all-pervasive, and if you are the head of a family, your biggest fear would be the security of your loved ones in case something happens to you. But now is the time to conquer this fear through adequate preparation.

One of the ways to be prepared to deal with any eventuality or uncertainty is to look at assets you have created and ensure that the rightful beneficiaries reap its full benefits without any hindrance. A well-documented estate plan can help you do that.

Here are nine things to remember when planning your estate.

Don’t procrastinate: Sooner the better is the operative expression here. Knowing and not implementing an important idea is a blunder. So take the first step—stop procrastinating and begin your estate planning process.

Make a list of your assets: These include physical assets such as real estate and land, bullion gold, jewellery, precious artefacts and financial assets such as shares, bonds and mutual funds. Note down your share in each of these, in case of joint holdings, you should know how much you own. You may also want to talk to your family to understand their aspirations and plan accordingly.

Don’t leave it on your spouse: Even if your spouse is working and capable of shouldering responsibilities, do not leave the cumbersome task of getting your finances in order to them in your absence. Prepare a plan, which can be executed to ensure they have effective control on the assets you will leave behind.

Just nomination does not work: It is important to appoint a nominee when you buy an asset or make an investment, but a nominee is just a custodian of your asset when you are not around and not necessarily the only legal heir entitled to receive assets. A well-drafted will or a private family trust as a part of an estate plan can help in transferring your assets smoothly to loved ones.

Don’t rely on law solely: When a person dies intestate or without a valid will, the respective personal law takes over the distribution of assets. This ensures that all legal heirs are entitled to their shares. However, the deceased person might have different intentions or goals. For example, a Hindu male may want his wife to be the sole owner of the house after his death. But if he dies without a will, then the ownership of the house will not only go to his wife but also to his children in equal proportion. Hence, it is not advisable to leave the fate of your assets to the law.

Appoint a guardian: Some individuals are prudent enough to draft a will. However, if an heir is minor, appointing a guardian is mandatory. If you fail to appoint a guardian, the court appoints one. The person appointed by the court may not be the right person to take care of your child’s aspirations. Hence, you should appoint a guardian, wherever required.

Keep amending the plan: If you have already prepared your will, then you are on the right path. You must review the will periodically to consider changing needs and aspirations of your loved ones. Whenever there is a change in the assets or beneficiaries or executors, one should look at reviewing the will. One should relook at the will every one to two years.

Inform your family: Many believe that talking of estate planning or will may lead to clashes or unnecessary rift among people they intend to give their assets. However, there is no need to spell out the contents of the will. Instead, inform them about the existence of an estate plan and the process to execute it.

Seek professional help: Estate planning is the most complex part of your financial plan. Unfortunately, this is the only document, which acquires meaning when its creator is not around. To ensure smooth execution and prevent any wrong interpretation, it is crucial that you consult an estate planner. A well-documented will or a trust deed will respect your perseverance in creating assets and the intention behind creating the will.

Neha Pathak is head of trust and estate planning at Motilal Oswal Private Wealth Management

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Published: 22 Oct 2020, 09:02 PM IST
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