Legal Guide

How to Proactively Plan for the Future

If this year has highlighted one thing on an individual level, it’s that many people don’t have the foresight to plan ahead. The old adage of saving for a rainy day and other phrases I could casually throw around doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head when it comes to thinking about your future, especially in terms of planning for your family or simply getting a better understanding of your tax contributions.

In this article, I’m going to be looking solely at personal planning in terms of tax and estate planning. So, anyone thinking this is going to be about having the best 2021 ever, I am sorry, but you’ll have to look elsewhere. With that out of the way, here is how you can proactively plan for the future.

Finding a local lawyer

Lawyers shouldn’t be viewed as something you only ever need when it is an emergency or something has gone wrong. With it being such a multi-disciplinary vocation, they can help plan with just about any matter involving assets, taxes etc. This can be of particular use when you’re unsure or have no knowledge of existing frameworks for making plans.

For instance, I’m based in Scotland, where there are ever-so-slight variations in law for things like income tax and looking after your estate (which I’ll get to next), compared to say just down the road in England or across the water in Northern Ireland. It can be a headache trying to figure things out, especially if you start asking family and friends who will happily provide a million and one answers.

It’s a small fee, but you need to view it like getting a plumber or builder to come round and work on your house. You’re not just paying for their time, but their expertise. In my instance, just in case anyone else in Scotland is reading, I would recommend reading up on and contacting Brodies, a firm which specialises in the things I’m talking about here. Remember, finding a family lawyer isn’t as taxing or stressful as it appears. I recommend reading this article on The Average Cost of Family Lawyers to help get a clear idea on how getting a lawyer works.

Understanding personal tax planning

You’ll know that if you “look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves”, but when your money, in part, is tied in with paying taxes, you could see yourself either paying way too much every year or scooting along fine until the HMRC flags something up.

If you shudder at the thought of being stuck at the kitchen table into the small hours pouring over your accounts and how much tax to get sorted, forego the inconvenience and get a lawyer who helps with personal tax planning. A good one will not only help you and your family out, but they should also tie in with your business accounts to see where improvements can be made that you’re completely oblivious to.

You should also expect a lawyer to lay out a medium to long-term tax strategy after getting to know your situation.

Understanding that you need to get your estate in order

It surprises me just how many people don’t take the time to consider getting a will, especially adults who are only just getting started with building a family. I always comment that anyone without a proper will or plan in place is literally throwing away money that their family could benefit from.

You would be surprised just how much the government can claim on someone’s estate when they pass, with the family pretty much helpless to intervene at that point. Again, get yourself a lawyer who will create a plan, draw up a will, and help your family avoid surprise costs if anything happens.

Even if you take one idea away from reading this article, it should be about getting your will sorted out.

Understanding trusts

One final proactive point to raise before I’m finished. There is a lot of misconception surrounding getting a trust and linking it with a will. If you’ve been thinking of doing so, I recommend getting in touch with a lawyer or solicitor who specialises in them. Their expertise will help avoid common mistakes that many trusts have. A prime example of this is ambiguous language written into the trust; something you wouldn’t want when you may need that money to help look after you or your family when you aren’t able to.

Get to planning

While I may have come across as abrupt here, I simply want to highlight why being proactive is important. Just taking a small step now to secure your future will help avoid major issues later on.

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