Private Wealth Planning
It is a common mistake that estate planning is about minimizing the inheritance tax on your estate. If that was all it was about, the most straightforward estate plan is to give it all away during your life time. No inheritance means no inheritance tax.
More than tax planning
Private wealth plannning is, in the first place, about making your assets last your lifetime and keeping assets in your estate with appropriate insurance.
Private wealth planning is also, and about planning for the management of your finances and your medical care for when you become incapacitated and cannot manage them for yourself.
Furthermore, estate planning is also about ensuring that your assets go to the people you choose, not those the state chooses. It is about making sure that your estate will go to whom you want and that their future is assured. In today’s society with looser partnerships, blended or estranged families, this is getting more complicated. It is even more so in an international situation with property and parents and children in other countries all over the globe.
If you have young children, private wealth planning is also planning for them in case they lose both parents before adulthood. You can help the justice of the peace designate the adult who will raise your children and manage their assets. If you don’t, the justice of the peace will decide who will play these critically important roles in your children’s lives.
Private wealth planning may also be about making sure that your children do not get your inheritance too early, or that they do not use it for the wrong purposes or spend it on fast cars and funny substances.
It is also about defusing potential family conflicts over your estate.
And finally, private wealth planning is also about making sure your heirs pay the least inheritance tax. In cross border situations, with property in different countries, with families in different parts of the world, this means taking account of multiple gift and inheritance tax regimes.
an art with many tools
The most obvious thing to do is draw up a will in which you give clear instructions about who gets what when you die.
If inheritance tax is an issue, you may well want to start planning ahead and make gifts during your lifetime.
However, you can never foresee the future and you may want to anticipate accidents (e.g. that your children die before you). By making gifts you can avoid inheritance tax., We need to look at this as well before we can get to any form of estate and tax planning.
Changing your marriage contract can be a good piece of advice. Keep in mind that in Belgium a marriage contract is not the same as a prenuptial agreement. Even if you did not sign a marriage contract or a prenup before you married, you can still sign a marriage contract to change your matrimonial regime.
contracts and trusts
There are also different forms of contract that are used in Belgium to help you plan how your assets pass to your heirs., Life insurance is an obvious choice.
And for some trusts and foundations may be a useful instrument. They may even be essential planning tools in many other countries to avoid or minimise tax there – legally.