How to deal with Succession and Estate Planning
In this episode of Dhan ki Baat, Ruchi Sharma, Senior Vice President, IIFL Investment Adviser and Trustee Services, discusses the importance of succession and estate planning for efficient and smooth transfer of assets.
All you need to know about Estate and Succession Planning
If you own a business, or you are a high net worth individual, you would want your business and assets to stay within the family after your demise. Given the complicated process of money management, there is always a possibility that your family might lose the ownership of your assets, creating a financial mess. Hence, for efficient transfer of assets, it is crucial to have an estate and succession plan.
What is Estate and Succession Planning?
Estate and succession planning is the process of
- organizing your assets to achieve seamless intergenerational wealth transfer and other objectives, during your lifetime and beyond.
- Planning for harmonious succession and disposition of your assets
- Protection of your assets/estate with your family’s needs in mind
- Preparing your estate for unforeseen eventualities
What happens if there is no Estate plan?
If there is no estate plan, the succession or transfer of assets still takes place but follows the legal procedure mentioned in different succession laws. For e.g.:
- Hindu Succession Act, 1956.
- Muslim succession law/ Sharia’h Law.
- Christians Succession law
- Parsi Succession Act
Common Tools of Estate and Succession Planning
- Nomination: The estate owner nominates a person who would get ownership of the assets, once the estate owner passes away.
- Gifting: The estate owner gifts the assets to whomever he/she deems fit.
- Will: The estate owner draws a legal document mentioning the terms and conditions for the transfer of assets in his/her absence.
- Trust: An estate owner gives the ownership of assets to a trustee who is held responsible for providing regular benefits to a third party called the beneficiaries.
Will: is final declaration of a person’s intentions with respect to his property which the courts endorse only after his death.
A Will may not be able to take care of unforeseen eventualities which include incapacitation, false claims or disputes. A Probate may be required in certain states for establishing the rights of the beneficiaries under the Will. Will should be executed in presence of two witnesses, doctor’s certificate and may also be registered for extra caution
Creating a legal framework for the family assets, bypassing probate process, safe-guarding
interests of family members including maintenance of members with special
needs/disabilities, attaching conditions to gifts (be it on attaining a particular age or
fulfilment of the Settlor’s wishes) and avoiding family disputes over the property being
some of the prime considerations while designing a Family Trust.
A trust is an arrangement under which the settlor entrusts his property to the trustees, who hold it for the benefit of the beneficiaries. The basic constituents of a trust are transmutation of trust property, declaration of the purpose and the beneficiaries Trustee is the individual or Professional company designated to hold and administer Trust property. The Trustee has a fiduciary duty towards the beneficiaries. If the Settlor thinks that the trustee would require some supervision, he/she appoints a Protector to protect the beneficiaries.
The Creation/settlement of a Trust is done through a document call Trust deed which contains terms under which the trust property must be managed and distributed.
Benefits of Making a Trust
During the lifetime of the estate owner:
- Asset preservation
- Asset consolidation
- Securing assets
- Protection of business
After the lifetime of the estate owner
- Hassle free transfer
- Controlling ends of funds
- Minimal transfer costs
- No family disputes
- Special needs/ family members
Ruchi Sharma is the Senior Vice President, IIFL Investment Adviser and Trustee Services Limited. Ruchi is a part of the IIFL IATSL team actively involved in advising clients on estate planning structures to formalise strategies, which ensure family succession and business continuity. She is also responsible for building strategies for identifying and exploring new opportunities in the area of Wealth Structuring Solutions within the framework of Indian laws, International laws, Global tax laws and Exchange Control regimes. Ruchi is a post graduate (MMS) from Mumbai University with over 15 years of work experience that includes Estate and Planning, Private Banking & International Funds Management.
Ask an Expert
What is Estate and Succession Planning?
Estate and succession planning is the process of organizing your assets, financial and non-financial, in an effective, efficient and compliant manner so that it achieves seamless intergenerational wealth transfer and other objectives, during your lifetime and beyond
What if there is no estate plan and I die?
If there is no estate plan for an individual, the transfer of assets is carried out by following the legal procedures mentioned in different succession acts, depending on their religion and local laws governing such transfers.
What is a Probate?
Probate is a court-supervised process to identify and distribute the assets of a deceased estate owner. The taxes and liabilities are paid, and the assets are transferred to the beneficiaries.
How would I know that I have made an ideal estate plan?
An ideal estate plan includes a combination of nomination, gifting comprehensive will and/or a trust.
Should I review my Estate plan at regular intervals?
You should never consider your estate plan permanent. Since circumstances change with time, your desires and objectives may also change. It is therefore advisable that you review your estate plan regularly.
What is a Trustee?
A Trustee is a person whom the settlor (estate owner) transfers the ownership of the assets so that the trust can be managed efficiently. He has the fiduciary responsibility to oversee the trust and discharge duties.
What is 'Power of Attorney' in an Estate Plan?
By availing the facility of 'Power of Attorney', you can delegate your authority and right to invest, manage or spend assets on your behalf to someone else.
Who can make an Estate Plan?
Anyone who is above 18 years, sound state of mind and has some assets can make an Estate plan as per Indian succession laws. You can hire an estate lawyer or consult an NBFC to achieve your estate objectives.
What is a Private Family Trust?
A Trust means vesting or placing property under the control of a person/entity in the confidence that he/she/it will hold it for the benefit of self and family members only.