4 ways COVID has changed estate and succession planning
When we look back on the global coronavirus pandemic in some distant future, it’s sure to be considered a watershed event on multiple fronts. One of the notable changes is likely to be in human behaviour that has become more socially distant, but also better prepared.
The economic hardship brought on by the pandemic caused many businesses to fail, affecting the livelihoods of millions of people around the globe.
So, what can we learn from this event when looking at estate and succession planning? Here are four key take-ways on how behaviour has been impacted by events of the recent past.
1) Estate planning to the fore
Prior to the pandemic there were more foreseeable threats to a family or business legacy. A patriarch might expect to live to a ripe old age and keep a hand in the business to steer it in the right direction.
That well-trodden path is now less certain for many business owners and their families. A single, simple succession plan might now no longer be appropriate.
Consequently, we’ve seen more clients prompted to reflect on their current estate plans.
In some instances, this has been to future-proof their plans, while others have had to rearrange affairs to absorb the pandemic’s economic impact. It’s no surprise then that there has been increased demand from clients with offshore trusts and business structures wanting to review their plans.
If you find yourself in this position, it's always advisable to do it with a fiduciary expert because of the complexities involved. By engaging an expert on these matters, you’re also showing that you’re serious about protecting your wealth for future generations.
2) There is no age restriction on estate or wealth planning
A key lesson learnt during the pandemic is that a certain urgency is needed to get one’s affairs in order.
We no longer have the luxury of contemplating a legacy only after a full life building up a family business. COVID-19 has demonstrated that no-one will be left spared with global outbreaks of this nature.
Should this fate befall a young or middle-aged family, the consequences can be very damaging unless a proper plan is in place.
3) Separate personal and business affairs
Even though one of the first rules of business is to separate personal from professional matters, many families were left in limbo because this had not been done, or not adequately done.
The danger of not doing so exposed many families during the pandemic. The lockdowns have pushed untold businesses over the edge, often exposing the personal assets of business owners that had not been properly structured.
A hidden danger that often only crops up when it’s too late in a business partnership is if any of the parties has not properly structured his or her estate. In the absence of succession instructions, for instance, the business could be locked in probate for months or even years as the estate is wound up.
Separating your business and personal affairs in the appropriate manner is therefore a high priority if you wish to leave a lasting legacy.
4) Plan ahead
A key component of a succession plan is to prepare for emergency situations such as sickness, hospitalisation or incapacitation that leaves one incapable of coherent decision-making.
Any proper estate plan caters for these instances by appointing trusted people to help make the right medical and financial decisions if needed.
While COVID taught us all some uncomfortable lessons, hopefully we now appreciate why we should be planning for tomorrow even if it looks bright and trouble-free.
If you’d like to find out how to set up a Trust that can protect your assets and your interests long into the future, speak to one of our fiduciary professionals today.
This document has been prepared to assist clients considering creating a trust (in either Jersey or Mauritius). It is intended to provide a quick overview to the establishment and administration of offshore trusts and the benefits of estate and succession planning.. It is not intended to be comprehensive in its scope and it is highly recommended that a client obtain both legal / tax advice (as may be appropriate) prior to the establishment of a trust and with any proposed transfer of assets.
These services are provided by Standard Bank Offshore Limited’s subsidiaries in Jersey and Mauritius.
Standard Bank Offshore Trust Company Jersey Limited is regulated by the Jersey Financial Services Commission, to provide corporate and trust services. Where Standard Bank Offshore Trust Company Jersey Limited makes a statement or incurs a liability in its capacity as trustee of a particular trust, it does so only as trustee of that trust, and not otherwise. Registered office address is Standard Bank House, 47-49 La Motte Street, St Helier, Jersey, JE2 4SZ and registered in Jersey under No 9153.
Standard Bank Trust Company (Mauritius) Limited is regulated by the Financial Services Commission, Mauritius, to provide corporate and trust services and does not fall under the regulatory and supervisory purview of the Bank of Mauritius. Where Standard Bank Trust Company (Mauritius) Limited makes a statement or incurs a liability in its capacity as trustee of a particular trust, it does so only as trustee of that trust, and not otherwise. Registered office address is Level 9, Tower B, 1 Cyber City, Ebene, 72201, Mauritius and business registration number: C06021609
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