Estate planning involves structuring a client’s personal, business and financial affairs in life in such a way that upon his or her death, estate duty, capital gains tax and executor’s fees are minimized.
In addition, estate planning should provide for sufficient liquidity to meet the estate's financial obligations, and ensure that the heirs’ inheritance is adequately protected. It is important to note that estate planning does not concern itself with life insurance policies only.
Although life policies are taken into account, comprehensive planning involves the structuring of offshore assets, wills, living wills, trusts and donations, and issues such as marital contracts and different income tax provisions all need to be taken into consideration.
A trust is an entity utilised for testamentary or business purposes.
Under South African law there are three main types of trusts, namely inter vivos trusts, testamentary trusts and non-discretionary trusts (bewind trust). Testamentary trusts are created when a deceased estate is being wound up and are structured as part of a person’s will. Testamentary trusts are usually created to hold assets on behalf of minor children or other heirs for a specific period of time.
Non-discretionary trusts (bewind trust) are created as trading vehicles. They provide trustees with limited liability and certain tax advantages.
Discretionary trusts are normally used as estate planning tools, to hold and protect growth assets. It is very important that a trust specialist should handle the drafting and registration of trusts, as there are numerous pitfalls that must be taken into account when setting up a trust.
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