Anonymity and discretion are hot commodities. Beyond that, effective wealth management comes with a new set of challenges in the modern world. In the technology age, not only the wealthy have a strong desire for privacy, but many of you, who have an estate plan in place, also prefer this estate plan to remain private. And all of a sudden, this has become much more challenging with the persistent pandemic.
How Privacy Laws have Changed?
For many years now, personal information has been readily available on the internet and in social media accounts, resulting in public being to use what was once considered private information to learn more about you. We have all read about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appearing before Congress and being grilled about user privacy or the lack of it. The vast majority of the population felt after this hearing that they have no control over their data and are concern about how it is being used.
The Covid-19 pandemic made this much worse with almost every government has thrown privacy under the bus. Many countries have rolled out mandatory tracing and tracking tools and devices.
Plus, people gave away willingly tons of personal data to get things done or ordered remotely; be it groceries purchases, meals delivery, bicycles rentals, etc.. There was increased demand for, and supply of, everything online whereas Zoom and the likes became the primary means of communications for many.
In some countries, laws have been amended to allow the government to obtain such data. One would have to be naive to assume that governments will not use those newly-gained powers for other purposes than fighting against the pandemic.
How Changes in Privacy Laws Will Affect Estate Tax?
Given the significant outlay by various governments during the pandemic, it is not surprising that a few might be looking to recoup any sums they can in due course. In fact, on 11 May 2021, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) proposed that government hungry for extra revenue should revisit their inheritance and estate tax as they emerge from the coronavirus crisis.
This potentially means a few scenarios including increasing tax rates, revisiting exemptions, redefining the line drawn between tax planning and tax evasion, and making an example of those who are involved in any wrongdoing during this period.
In our past blog entries, we have alluded to the benefit of avoiding probate, that is to have a simpler, faster, and more private access to the assets. If privacy is important to you, the next step that you should take is where to keep your Will and estate plans, as who has visibility on it depends on that.
As said above, the world after the pandemic is going to be different. With changes in privacy laws, we should also expect an increase in investigations and prosecutions of tax evasion.
Over the years, the line between tax planning, tax avoidance or tax evasion has also blurred. It is not easy to stay current in changes in legislation.
But even if we are doing the right things, we still prefer our information to remain private, instead of being accessed by authorities that are eager to determine if a further investigation is required. However, as long as you store your information locally or ‘onshore’ (i.e. in the country/jurisdiction you live in), hence within easy reach of investigative powers, there is always a possibility that they may be abused, particularly when privacy laws will not protect you the same way they used to.
How liteWill Protects Your Privacy?
If you have been following our blog, you know that liteWill is the only global Will registration company that offers both online Will registration and online Will storage services. We also maintain a confidential Will database which acts as a central repository for all existing Wills registered in it.
Writing a Will and updating your Will regularly is the very first step, and it’s an important one. But more importantly, you should register your updated Will and store it in a safe place. liteWill lets you register your Will and store an electronic copy of your Will. Otherwise, all the good work that you have done becomes irrelevant if your person of confidence is not able to find your Will in a timely manner. ‘A Will that is not registered is like a Will that does not exist’.
This portion of the website is for information only. The statements and opinions are the expression of their author, not of liteWill, and have not been evaluated for accuracy, completeness or changes in the law. Information contained in this article is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.
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