Our world and way of life has changed, shouldn’t our attitude to Wills and Inheritance change too?
Family structures have increased in complexity in recent times given the proliferation of blended, single parent and adoptive families who are spread out across geographic locations. Growing up, none of us imagined that we would have sisters or brothers living in Australia and our children would be studying in the USA, while we are making a living in the UK. Our world, our way of living, and our family structures have dramatically changed, not to mention the fact that we are living longer post retirement.
I was motivated to write this article because I have noticed that despite people’s increased standard of living, issues like Estate Planning are seldom discussed, and I am not sure why. Estate planning protects your assets and your family. Without one, you forfeit the freedom to decide what should happen to your estate. We work incredibly hard to build a good life for ourselves and our families, I don’t think anyone would want a stranger to make decisions on the distribution of their hard-earned assets? Losing a loved one is incredibly difficult and the last thing any of us want is for our next of kin to spend those difficult moments haggling with lawyers or family members about material possessions. Estate planning keeps your loved ones from having to deal with bureaucracy in times of grief.
Why do we have funeral policies, but fail to make plans for our estate, however big or small? Don’t get me wrong, funeral policies are a necessity, but let’s think beyond them. Bear in mind the fact that you don’t need to be wealthy to have an estate. I would like you to ponder on a few areas of consideration regarding estates:
· What is the scope of your Estate? - Where are your assets located? You may have a house in Zimbabwe, a holiday home in Mauritius, an apartment in South Africa, and a business in the UK. Where will your Will apply? What are the jurisdictional considerations? These factors, along with considerations like dual citizenship should be borne in mind when drafting a will.
· Death Tax- You need knowledge of death duties and/ or taxes across jurisdictions. What inheritance taxes are applied in what country? It is definitely advisable to seek help from relevant legal experts.
· Marital regime- Are you married in or out of community of property? Do you have a Pre-nuptial agreement? How many times have you been married? Are your children from your current union? Are you a single parent? Who do you support/ look after? This could be children, elderly parents, a charity, family members or a religious institution.
· Debt- What debt do you have? Have you made provisions for it to be paid off in the event that you are not able to? Note that your family can inherit debt too.
· Entrepreneurship- There is a new generation of business owners who mostly run informal businesses which may or may not have formal succession plans. Who will run your business in your absence?
I am sure most of us can share horrendous stories of times of loss, inheritance, the impact of the lack of a will and how it affected you, a friend or a family member. How do we change the narrative? We have all the tools at our disposal and help is available. Life has changed and so should our attitude to estate management. If you have questions and need help please email is on email@example.com
Death brings out the worst in people, protect your loved ones and make times of loss less difficult for your family.