Many people think estate planning is something to be started in middle age. Yet an unexpected death at any age can leave relatives with the burden of having to wind up an estate and deal with assets and liabilities, including business interests, without the guidance of a legal, valid and executable will and comprehensive estate plan.
In the absence of a proper estate plan, managing a deceased estate can be a very complicated and costly process. One complication is that assets are frozen until the Master of the High Court has issued letters of executorship. An estate plan is there to provide a contingency plan, which will make cash available at the time of death until estate execution can get under way.
Essentially, an estate plan is a set of financial goals and a strategy for achieving them, as well as a time-frame for the plan and a list of people who will execute this programme in the event of death. An estate plan is important for individuals of any age, marital status or wealth bracket, and is always tailored to that individual's personal lifestyle and objectives.
Usually the goals of an estate plan are to preserve any wealth created during the person's lifetime to pass it on to family and succeeding generations, as well as to provide liquid funds for executing the estate plan at the time of death.