“Frankly, for Die Broker this isn’t estate planning, it’s premature death planning.”– Stephen M. Pollan and Mark Levine, authors of “Die Broke: A Radical, Four-Part Financial Plan”
Estate planning is the process of making decisions regarding the ownership and distribution of assets upon death, and taking proactive steps to increase and maximize the value of the estate while minimizing legal costs, taxes, and other expenses associated with death. It is a necessary process for everyone, no matter their age or financial situation.
Creating an estate plan is a significant part of financial planning for any individual. Creating an effective and comprehensive estate plan is a critical step for anyone looking to secure and protect their assets after death. As such, a comprehensive estate plan is composed of several components, which typically include a will, powers of attorney, health care directives, tax planning, and beneficiary designations.
A will is a formal document that dictates how the assets will be divided by the compulsory heirs upon the decedent’s death. Powers of attorney is a document executed that appoints someone to handle financial and medical decisions in the event the individual is incapacitated. Health care directives is a document written to provide instructions for medical care in the event of incapacity or death. In addition, tax planning should be taken into account to minimize the estate’s tax liabilities. Lastly, beneficiary designations should be established to ensure that the assets are distributed according to the individual’s wishes.
When creating an estate plan, it’s important to tailor the plan to the individual’s specific needs. Every person’s assets, family structure, and personal preferences are unique. Estate plans should be created with these specific needs and situations in mind in order to ensure that the individual’s wishes are properly executed upon his/her passing.
Estate planning services can be provided by a variety of professionals, depending on the complexity of the plan. Attorneys have the legal understanding to create the necessary documents and ensure that they are legally binding. Financial advisors can provide advice on how to maximize the value of the estate, as well as minimize taxes. Life insurance agents can provide advice on insurance policies that can help to protect the estate and/or the beneficiary-heirs. And, depending on the complexity of the estate plan and the individual’s needs, other professionals may also be consulted – investment bankers, and real estate brokers, among others.
In other words, estate planning can also be defined as a multi-disciplinary endeavor for designing a program for the effective management, enjoyment, and disposition of property – personal and real – of the planner at the least possible tax cost and avoidance of probate.
Therefore, it is important to find a professional who is qualified and experienced in estate planning, so that the estate plan put in place is wide-ranging and personalized to the individual’s particular needs.
On a final note, I leave you with an important insight of Atty. Edson T. Eufemio on why estate planning is not widespread and acceptable among Filipinos. He said: “In the Philippines, legal concerns are not the only ones that stand in the way of bringing the benefits of estate planning to the public. Cultural factors also exist since people rarely enjoy discussing mortality, especially their own. Further, children bringing up the benefits of estate planning to parents will seem like eager gold diggers.”
It does not matter if you own several or merely one real property. Learn more about estate planning. Research. Ask around. And find the best professional suitable to your needs and personal circumstances.
Atty. Jojo is a real estate attorney, an estate planning attorney, a licensed real estate broker, and a PRC-accredited Lecturer/ Speaker for Training Programs in Real Estate. He is a Chartered Trust and Estate Planning (CTEP®) professional who is committed to educating Filipinos about the value and importance of having an estate plan in their lives.