What is estate planning and how do I approach it?.

While estate planning may seem reserved for those with large, high-value estates and assets, this isn’t the case.

At its core, estate planning is about organising your assets – property, investments, cash, and other personal possessions – so they are distributed according to your wishes after you’re gone.

It’s a way to ensure your loved ones are cared for and mitigate any tax burden.

Imagine the alternative – a chaotic scenario where your family members are left to sort out your estate with the added challenges of legal hoops and potential disputes.

Timely estate planning can minimise inheritance tax – and no one wants to pay too much tax.

When should I start?

Life is unpredictable, and getting a head start on your estate planning is often sensible.

Many start thinking about it at major milestones, such as when they’ve just married or have their first child.

What do I need to consider?

Below are the fundamentals of estate planning and what to consider:

1: Take inventory of your assets

The cornerstone of estate planning is knowing what you actually own. In addition to the obvious, such as property or investment portfolios, consider your smaller assets, like valuable collections or digital assets, such as cryptocurrency.

Create a well-documented list – and keep it securely. This is your starting point and provides a snapshot of your assets for any legal or financial advisors you consult.

2: Identify beneficiaries

Determine who will inherit your assets and whether they align with who you wish to inherit your assets.

Consider immediate family, extended relatives, close friends, or even non-profit and charity organisations. Discuss openly with potential beneficiaries to avoid any surprises or conflicts later on.

You could even stipulate specific uses for your assets, like educational funds for grandchildren.

3: Understand inheritance tax

Understanding tax obligations is vital. Inheritance tax in Scotland and the rest of the UK generally kicks in when your total estate exceeds £325,000, although exemptions and reliefs can affect this threshold.

A well-structured estate plan, using allowances and gifts, can significantly minimise this tax burden. For many, cutting the tax bill beneficiaries have to pay is a priority – otherwise, the money is quite literally lost to the Government.

4: Draft a will

A will is your personal directive on how your assets should be distributed. Without it, you’ll die intestate and leave it up to the state to decide, which may not align with your wishes.

Remember that life events like marriage or divorce can invalidate your existing will, so update it if you encounter significant life changes.

5: Set up power of attorney

A power of attorney safeguards your well-being. Choose someone you deeply trust to make healthcare and financial decisions on your behalf if you can’t do so yourself.

There are different types of power of attorney, like ‘health and welfare’ or ‘property and financial affairs,’ and you may need both.

6: Explore trusts

Trusts are strategic tools that offer control over how your assets are distributed. They can protect assets from being used for things you don’t want them to, ensure they go to the right beneficiaries at the right time and offer tax benefits.

Trusts come in various types, each with its own set of rules, so professional guidance is crucial here.

7: Stay updated

Regular reviews, especially after significant life events like a new addition to the family, divorce, or changes in your financial situation, ensure your plan stays aligned with your current lifestyle and intentions.

8: Consult professionals

Estate planning becomes progressively more complicated as estates grow more complex.

The guidance of legal and financial professionals, tailored to your specific needs and circumstances, is invaluable.

This ensures you’re making informed decisions that take full advantage of tax benefits and strategies for reducing inheritance tax bills.


As much as estate planning involves confronting some of life’s more uncomfortable truths, it’s also about creating a sense of peace and security for you and your loved ones.

And then there’s the no-small matter of reducing how much money you lose to the Government on an inheritance tax bill.

As part of our personal tax planning service, we can help you to plan your estate in a way that suits your wishes. Get in touch to find out more.


What are you waiting for?

We’ve had so many clients in the past who said, “if only we’d spoken to you sooner.”

There’s no time like the present, so give us a call or send us a message.

We’re waiting to hear from you.