What is success without a successor
You are Successful, Rich, and Powerful.
When I first approach the topic of legacy planning with clients and friends, we know it can often be an uncomfortable discussion for many.
These are the common feedbacks I got when we talk about estate legacy:
- We don’t have one. We know we should, but we just haven’t gotten around to it.
- We did wills a long time ago when our kids were young, but now those kids have kids of their own.
- We have an estate plan and/or trusts but we are not sure what it says or really means.
As your estate consultant, I am given the privileged position to help clients start, continue or finish this challenging conversation. Sometimes the remaining decisions are easy. Other times couples disagree, and there can be sticking points that paralyse their decisions.
While I am not a attorney and can’t and don’t give legal advice, I can help prepare and provide clarity for your first visit with an attorney.
Know what is your current situation
It’s either one that you have created or one that the state creates for you. At death, virtually all assets are distributed in the following ways:
- Ownership – If your property is owned by joint tenants with survivorship, the asset goes to the remaining surviving owners. So if you own your house with your spouse, your spouse gets it. If your current HDB or Private property is under Tenancy in Common, we will have to find out more details on ownership percentage.
- Beneficiaries – Generally you name beneficiaries on retirement plans, life insurance, and health savings accounts.
- By Will or State Law – Anything that isn’t distributed by ownership or beneficiary. Some people believe they will not need a will because their spouse gets everything by ownership or beneficiary. While, that may be true, what happens if you both die together?
A second marriage, a second family nucleaus, a child with special needs, are examples of how the distribution of assets can become complicated.
It’s more than who gets what and when.
Your HDB/private property estate plan can serve as a reflection of what is important in your life. These can be hard conversations but are important.
- If you are a charitable giver during life, do you want to continue that legacy at death?
- How much is enough or too much for your children or other family members?
- How do you determine what is “fair”? Oftentimes what is “fair” isn’t always “equal”.
Planning is ongoing.
Estate planning is not something you do once and then you’re done. Your estate plan should change as your life changes. Below are some additional considerations:
Having worked with clients for the past few years, I can tell you that one of the greatest gifts you can give your survivors is to have your estate in order.
Having to dig through a deceased loved ones financial life to determine what they have and don’t have is an extra burden that can be avoided.
and, last but not least, what happens if a Singaporean passes away without leaving a will?
This simple infographic will illustrate.