Estate Planning - Planning until the end for the End

November 27, 2015, 2:28pm

By Dantagos Jimmy-Melani, Ndapunikwa Investments. Photo:  

Planning for the end is often the most procrastinated activity when it comes to our lifelong to-do lists. Most of us may have a funeral policy or two, and even life insurance with beneficiaries clearly spelt out.

Those fortunate enough to work for an employer offering a pension and other insurance benefits, will also have been asked to fill out a list of beneficiaries and outline the percentages of the benefit due to each in the instance of the member’s death.

Unfortunately most of us do not see the need to establish a legally sound Final Will and Testament to take care of everything else in between. For example, who do you want to look after your under-aged dependents? How would you like your estate to be handled and invested until your beneficiaries are old enough to take it over?

Protecting Your Loved Ones - Even After You’re Gone

Perhaps you are not so sure that any of your loved ones are responsible enough to make sound financial decisions for themselves when you’re not around.

In that case, there are solutions for this as well, such as appointing an Estate Manager or establishing a Trust, with Professional Trustees who can help your loved ones to make those important decisions about money going forward, and ensure that the dollars you worked for while you were living are not squandered, wasted and eventually depleted less than a year after your death.

We’ve all heard the horror stories. Grief stricken loved ones often struggle to think rationally and make sound financial decisions, while at the same time dealing with their loss.

They may even become the victims of unscrupulous fraudsters or unethical business people, intent on capitalising on their grief. In this regard, it really helps to have a well laid out plan to help those you have left behind put the pieces back together again after you are gone.

Estate planning is the process of anticipating, preparing for and documenting what should happen to all your possessions, when you pass on. This process takes place while you are still alive and is important to remove any uncertainties regarding your assets and how they should be handled in the event of your death.

Individual vs. Business Owner Estate Planning

As an individual or business person, we accumulate certain items during the course of our lives. These items include money, property and other assets. We also accumulate debts, and have responsibilities, like people that depend on us to care for them emotionally and financially. 

In the case of SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises), there are several relationships and stakeholders that are impacted by the death of the business owner.

In order to minimize the uncertainties that can stem from the untimely death of an individual or business owner, it is important to undertake thorough and routine Estate Planning.

In the Estate Planning process, a person can anticipate and arrange the disposal of his or her own estate while still alive. It is basically a plan setting out what you would want to happen to all your things and the people closest to you in life, after you are no longer living.

Some of the issues addressed by an Estate Plan include who your beneficiaries are, who will be the Guardian of your children, how will any outstanding debts be paid, and how your possessions will be divided up between your loved ones.

In the case of a business owner, Estate Planning also considers how a business is structured, succession in leadership, the settlement of any outstanding debts of the business, and tax implications.

Where to Start with Estate Planning

The activity of Estate Planning is a well-established professional service, with various service providers able to assist individuals and businesses in finding the most suitable solutions.

Such service providers include your local commercial bank (or any well respected and established banking institution in the country), which will usually have an estate planning service readily available to offer its clients.

The Estate Planning services of banks often also include Trustee Services, in the event that you are looking to establish a Trust until your under-aged children are old enough to take control of their own inherited wealth, or even beyond that. Some people may opt to establish a trust in order to support a worthwhile charitable cause close to their hearts.

Other professional trust services can also be automatically offered to certain employee groups by their employers, for example, Government Employees have an established trust in Namibia where beneficiary pension assets from deceased members are managed, and a certain amount paid out to beneficiaries until they come of age, at which time they receive the balance.

A Certified Financial Planner, usually independent, or an agent of one of the established life insurance and funeral benefits companies, is also a reliable resource for consulting to establish your Final Will and Testament. However, be aware that the Financial Advisors linked to certain products may push you towards solutions from their affiliated companies.

Law Firms and Lawyers, have also traditionally been the first port of call for drafting a will and notarising it, and are a safe bet for a good service in this regard. The fees charged for the service however, may sometimes be higher than those service providers with built-in or customised options for clients in the banking, investment and insurance industries.

Plan Until the End and Live Life to the Fullest Today!

So instead of putting off thinking and preparing for the end, get your affairs in order today, and live life to the fullest knowing that you have done all that is humanly possible to ensure your loved ones will be well cared for in the unlikely and unfortunate event of your untimely death.

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