Initiating Estate & Succesion Planning

Getting Started with Estate Planning Getting Started with Estate Planning

Estate planning, the process of planning how to preserve your assets for your heirs, it is not just for the very wealthy. Everyone should engage in some form of estate planning. After working hard for many years, building up a business, and accumulating asset, you should make sure that those assets will not be unnecessarily used up but are preserved for your survivors.

Start with Estate Planning

Have you been postponing your Wealth Transfer Decisions? If you’ve been postponing them because you’re just not sure how to get started, here are some steps to help prompt you on.

Steps to Follow for Estate Planning Process

1. Set a Deadline. We all know how life can get in the way of something like this. Plan to have it done by the end of the year or by your next birthday or anniversary.

2. Become an Educated Consumer. It is much better to become educated about the basics of estate planning on your own time than to pay an estate planner or other professional to educate you. Save your money for questions about your specific situation. There is good general information readily available online and in books written specifically for consumers. ( is an excellent source of accurate, easy-to-understand information.) Estate planners often provide seminars on estate planning; these are also an excellent way to start your education and to meet local estate planners.

3. Organize your Financial Information. Create a personal balance sheet. Make a listing or spreadsheet of your assets, their market values, any debts against them, the resulting net values and how they are titled. Gather the actual deeds and statements so your estate planner can see them.

Include your home and any other real estate; other titled property such as a car , bike etc.; bank accounts; fixed deposits ; stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other investments; retirement savings including Provident Fund, Pension Plans; NPS ,business and partnership interests; life insurance policies and annuities; receivables (people who owe you money); items of special value such as coin collections, antiques, artwork, jewelry; an estimate of your personal property; and a listing of all debts other than those connected to the assets listed above (credit cards, personal loans etc.).

Be honest about this. Your Estate Planner can only plan with the information you provide. If you provide incomplete information, you will have an incomplete plan.

4. Decide the Beneficiaries of your Estate. Make a list of all the people you want to inherit from you (spouse, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, siblings, a life partner to whom you are not married, special friends, etc.). Include their full legal names, dates of birth, current addresses and how they are related to you. Be sure to note if there are any special needs involved (child, parent, even a pet). You may also want to include a charitable, educational or religious organization.

5. Think about how and when you want these people and/or organizations to inherit from you. Treating all your children equally is not always the fair thing to do; for example, one child may have done very well in business and another may be just getting by on a teacher’s salary. If you are married, you will want to make sure your spouse has enough money to live out the rest of his/her years securely. If this is your second marriage, you will want to make sure your children will also inherit from you.

Some people like to distribute the full inheritance right away, others in installments. Still others prefer keeping the inheritance in a trust where it will be protected from creditors, divorce, and irresponsible spending.

6. Think about whom you want to be your executor (if you have a will) or your trustee (if you have a trust). Automatically naming your oldest child or naming all of your children to act together is not always the best idea. The person(s) you name to take on this responsibility should be someone you trust, whose judgment you respect, and who will also honor your wishes but most important is that this person has the capability of performing the diverse duties. If you don’t feel you have good candidates (they live too far away, they’re too busy, they aren’t responsible enough or your children have a history of disagreeing with each other), consider a professional to be your executor or trustee.

If you have minor children, you will need to decide whom you want to raise them if you should die before they reach legal age and whom you want to manage their inheritance until they reach the age(s) you want them to inherit.

7. You can appoint different individuals as the Custodians of your Children and Custodian of the Wealth you leave behind for the children. In many cases this is the right thing to do as you do not know what might happen after you.

8. Write down your thoughts and questions as you go along so you will remember to discuss them with your estate planner. You do not have to make all these decisions on your own. Most estate planning estate planners have counseled many families and they have seen the results of proper and improper planning. An experienced estate planner will be able to guide you with these decisions, but he/she does not know your family like you do. If you give some advance thought to these matters, it will help your estate planner to help you.

Keep in mind that estate planning is a process. It may take several meetings with your estate planner to get things the way you want them. You will also need to update your plan from time to time as your situation changes over your lifetime.

9. Yes, you do need an estate planner. An experienced planner has the technical expertise to collect relevant information to get the draft documents correctly and will know how to make your plan work for you, the way you want. They also understand the legal requirements in your state. Laws vary greatly from state to state, and a do-it-yourself may not work for you. A simple mistake or omission can have far reaching complications that will only come to light after you are gone.

10. If you are concerned about the expense, tell the estate planner your concerns. At NEXGEN we provide free initial consultancy to find out your estate planning requirements. After the initial meeting and data gathering your Estate Planner will be able to share with you the cost involved and the time taken to get your estate plan moving. If budget is a constraint we might suggest you to get the basic things right and then move to the more advanced tools. Like you can afford (a will and POA, for example) and upgrade later when possible.

Yes, this is a big project and it can seem overwhelming. But remember why you are doing this: you love your family and you want to do what is best for them. Once your estate plan is in place, you will have the best benefit of all—peace of mind.

11. Re-Evaluate Often.Be sure to revisit your estate plan periodically, particularly after major life events like having a child or getting divorced to make sure the named beneficiaries are accurate.

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