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How does the royal family handle estate planning?

Much of the royal family's nearly $30 billion estate and wealth is already held in trust. Some property has been held in trust since the 14th century. The trusts effectively allow whomever is named king or queen to use the properties and assets in the trust during their lifetime.

Members of the royal family, however, also are paid by the government and generate wealth individually. The individual estates of the royal family members typically pass directly from generation to generation. Unlike normal citizens, however, members of the royal family are not subject to inheritance taxes. Individual estates of royal family members are often divided based on the stated wishes in a Last Will and Testament.

What lessons can I learn about my estate plan from the royal family?

There are many lessons that a person can learn from the royal family's estate planning. Most people may be interested in how the royal family establishes long term wealth. The royal family manages their wealth carefully, avoids the inheritance tax, and employs professionals to manage the family's trust. With early planning, and the right help, individuals can set up trusts that can help their heirs, and potentially even their heirs' heirs, avoid inheritance taxes and probate.

On a more relatable note, however, the most important lesson to take away from the royal family's estate planning is to regularly update your will, and to do it properly. If you own a business, make sure your succession plan is updated annually as well. While Queen Elizabeth II lived a long and illustrious life, Princess Diana's life was cut short at the age of 36. While there may have been some controversy surrounding Princess Diana's last wishes, fortunately, she did have a will that allowed her to pass her estate on as she saw fit. 

Although it can be an emotional task, reviewing your will annually, or making one if you do not already have one, can be a big help to your loved ones if you unexpectedly pass.

How can I make sure my business continues on for multiple generations?

When business owners set up an estate plan, including a business requires additional planning. A corporation or LLC may rely on a succession plan to keep it running for generations, regardless of your estate plan. A sole proprietorship or partnership, however, may require more careful estate planning. This is due to the fact that sole proprietors, and often partnerships too, operate their business through their own name. This means that when a sole proprietor dies, the business and its assets are part of their personal estate, and typically go through probate. This can lead to losses, delays, and unexpected costs while control of the business and its assets are probated. Sole proprietors can, fortunately, take advantage of tools, including trusts meant for businesses, to avoid probate and ensure operations continue on smoothly.

By including your business as part of a comprehensive estate plan, business owners, including sole proprietors, can ensure their businesses continue to operate and benefit their families for generations to come.

Can I set up a trust that lasts forever?

In many states, trusts may be established to last well beyond your passing. Some states allow individuals to set up dynasty trusts (also known as legacy trusts), which can last for several generations and help families avoid a variety of taxes. Dynasty trusts might be a good option for people who have large estates and want to pass their wealth on to multiple generations. If you are interested in a dynasty trust, however, you may want to learn more about the states that have beneficial laws for these types of trusts. There are states that allow for longer-term trusts, making setting up a dynasty trust possible:

  • Alaska.
  • Arizona.
  • Delaware.
  • Florida.
  • Idaho.
  • Illinois.
  • Maryland.
  • Ohio.
  • South Dakota.
  • Wisconsin.

Some states also relax tax requirements for these trusts:

  • Alaska.
  • Florida.
  • Nevada.
  • South Dakota.
  • Texas.
  • Washington.
  • Wyoming.

Setting up a dynasty trust may require the assistance of an estate planning lawyer to help you make informed decisions that will benefit your beneficiaries in the short and long term.

How can I change my wishes after making a Last Will and Testament?

Last wishes can vary depending on what is covered. Often a Memorial Plan can be created simply and effectively to cover issues surrounding funeral wishes, burial, or cremation. To change a will or estate plan, however, a person may want to take action sooner rather than later.

Changes to a will typically require following the same simple formalities required by your state to make a valid Last Will and Testament. These may include:

  • Having your signature notarized.
  • One or more witnesses to your signature. 
  • Witness signatures.

In addition to the above formalities, another typical requirement is that a person be mentally capable of making decisions about changing their will.

If you have more questions about starting or updating your estate plan, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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