First published in ACCESS Autumn 2016 e-zine
by Sieta Autar Matawlie
Estate planning centres on the transfer of assets from one generation to the next, taking into account the tax consequences. But it is more than that. Estate planning also means taking care of your affairs in advance, in the event of your death or should you become seriously ill.
You will want your family, whether or not in the immediate circle, to be provided for and this can be done whilst you are still alive (by gifts, for example) or after your death. You may also want to make sure your retirement provisions are in order. Does your family know what they have to look out for? After your death, who will be the point of contact and where are the most important documents to be found and what are the passwords to your digital accounts and who can manage these passwords?
Not only is having a sound and up-to-date will important, it is also relevant to have a so-called living will. A will takes care of your affairs in the event of your death, a living will arranges your affairs when you are still alive but are no longer able to make decisions yourself. This includes any medical decisions to be made (yes or no to treatment) or what should happen to your home if you are no longer able to live there independently. Living wills are drawn up by specialised lawyers. Wills are drawn up by a civil-law notary, even though an important advisory role is reserved for lawyers during the preliminary process.
Entrepreneur/Director and Major Shareholder and estate planning
If you run your own business or are a Director and Major Shareholder, there is an additional interest to be taken into account: your business. You will want to preserve the continuity of your business if you are ill and in the event of your death. Who will be (temporarily) in charge? What are the powers of such person? A living will setting out these considerations prevents many problems. Perhaps now is the time to start thinking about business succession or business takeover. Who will take over the business, why are heirs important here and how is this going to be arranged tax-wise and legally? Estate planning is especially important for (wealthy) individuals, entrepreneurs/Directors and Major Shareholders and public benefit organisations. «