‘People think estate planning is only for the rich’

By Ravi Samalad |  05-02-20 | 
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About the Author
Ravi Samalad is Assistant Manager - Editoral for Morningstar.in.

Mumbai-based adviser Priyesh Sampat talks about the challenges of estate planning and how advisers can help their clients prepare a Will.

How is the awareness about estate planning in India?

There is a world of difference between awareness and actions. Most Indians have never given a serious thought to dying and not yet secured/educated their family financially in case of their death. Many are aware but very few do.

Given the low awareness, how do you go about sensitizing your clients about this concept?

Nobody likes to talk about their own or their loved one’s death. It’s a sensitive topic to be raised in most Indian households. We share with them real life dispute stories and nudge them to make them think, act practically and rationally. Most decedents are interested in getting it done for their parents but run away from discussing this, citing misunderstanding amongst the family.

What are the misconceptions or challenges associated with estate planning?

These are some of the misconceptions:

  • People think it is only meant for the rich.
  • They say they have already nominated their spouse or only child residing abroad in all their assets. Often, people think that their children will never fight for money or property.
  • People wish to make a Will but don’t want to discuss their family wealth/secrets with outsiders.

Is estate planning only meant for people who have a large estate to leave to their children?

One should ask a widow or orphaned children how they are made to run from pillar to post in absence of proper estate plan. Thus, time and cost factors are significant when it comes to setting things in order. Forget financial assets, we have had cases where families fight over intellectual/digital property also. It’s not about large estate but the right of the beneficiaries.

At what stage in life should one have a Will? How often should it be updated?

One should make a Will as soon as they acquire an asset, post attaining the age of majority. Ideally, a Will should be updated in case of changes in assets. For instance, acquiring a property through own funds or inheritance, changes in family like marriage, childbirth, divorce or after passing away of a family member.

What would be your advice to advisers who wish to start estate planning services? Should they do it in-house or outsource?

Clients are comfortable discussing about this delicate subject with their financial advisers as advisers know almost everything related to their client’s finances. However, most distributors are inclined to give advice on financial products and close the sale. We as distributor/adviser should proactively nudge our clients to have an estate plan by making and sharing our own plan. If one is successful in getting clients after life finances in order, we can enhance our role of managing their family’s finances for generations to come.

Estate Planning is a subject of legality and sometimes becomes too time consuming. Thus, collaboration is the key. We outsource most of our estate planning services except execution of estates and Attorneyship.

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