Don’t hesitate and make the mistake that so many do who put off and avoid making a Will, as you will only regret the opportunity you had to financially plan and make necessary provisions for your family and loved ones.
For both locals and expats in Hong Kong, having a Will is an especially important aspect of financial planning.
Expat Living HK spoke to our Phoenix Wills director, and Hong Kong-based expat of 16 years herself, Asa Candussi Wilkins, about all the important questions on the topic of Wills, estate planning and how a Will is necessary for financial planning for your future.
Before we travel we are quick to make a checklist of things to plan and pack, from our skis and sunnies to our favourite travelling shoes or much-needed neck pillow. However, what most of us tend to forget or are blissfully unaware of is the checklist (touch wood) we’d need in case of an unfortunate event.
No one expects the worst, but should anything happen during a trip, your loved ones could be thrown into an extremely vulnerable, difficult and emotional place. It is always best to rather be safe than sorry and to ensure you protect your loved ones.
Travel with peace of mind that your affairs are in order and that you have made necessary provisions and wishes for you and your family.
Here is our easy check list of things to consider before you head off:
• Write A Will
Making a Will and putting your affairs in order is one of the most important tasks you can carry out. Whether you are married, single, have children or no children we should all have a Will, and if you haven’t written one, before you travel would be a good time to write one. If you have already drawn up your Will, before travelling is a chance to make sure you have reviewed it and made sure it is up to date.
• Appoint Guardians
If you have children that are minors, it is an extremely important provision for all parents to make in appointing them temporary and permanent guardians in case of an event if anything were to happen to both parents. It is possible to name guardians in a Will and best to back your Will up with separate deeds of appointment of guardianship where parents can name temporary and permanent guardians for their children that will enable and ensure children are taken into care by the appointed guardians immediately.
• Living Will: Advance Medical Directive
Are you an adrenaline junkie and one for those dare devil activities then drawing up an Advance Medical Directive is a definite must-do before your next holiday. If a serious health crisis or accident where to occur and you are unable to speak or make your wishes known, a Living Will or Advance Medical Directive will enable you to make sure that those in charge of your care know what you want. A Living Will would allow somebody you have appointed to act on your behalf and give you authority to make medical decisions as it states your wishes about your medical treatment you want followed in the event you become seriously ill or incapacitated.
• Enduring Power of Attorney
In addition to a Living Will it would make sense to write an EPA, which is similar to an ordinary Power of Attorney and is a document in which you appoint a person of your choice to give them financial power of attorney to act on your behalf if you are unable to manage your own finances and affairs.
The next time you plan for a holiday, please do keep in mind our Phoenix Wills checklist of must-dos and take some time to consider and gather all your documents needed to make necessary provisions for you and your family. In that way you can look forward to your travels with the peace of mind that you have left your Last Will and Testament, wishes and estate in the best shape possible.
Safe Travels and Bon Voyage!
Because tomorrow is never promised- one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your loved ones is to write a Will and plan your estate. Estate planning laws differ internationally, however one rule that stands true is that if you do not have a Last Will and Testament, the Government will make one for you!
Without a Will, your assets and estate will be distributed according to the generic laws in your country of domicile – splitting your belongings between your next of kin; e.g. partner and children, and in some countries even factoring in parents or siblings.
What if this is not how you wish your estate to be distributed?
Well, this is one of the greatest reasons for and why it is important to write your Last Will and Testament- to ensure your exact wishes are carried out after you have passed.
For those doubtful of why a Will is necessary, we’ve put together a list of five good reasons Why You Need A Will?
1 – Protect Your Estate
A Will is a legally binding document that allows you to decide exactly how you’d like your estate to be handled and distributed after you have passed away. A Will puts you in control and allows you to choose who is entitled to benefit from your estate and what they will inherit.
Passing away without a Will, the laws of intestacy will decide who inherits your estate, which often could be against your wishes.
Plan Your Estate To Mitigate or Reduce Taxes
2 – Nominate Guardians For Your Children
Appointing guardians to have parental responsibility of your children, if they are minors is one of the most important reasons why you’d need a Will. Any child under the age of 18 must have an adult who is responsible for them.
What were to happen if something happened to both parents?
Absent a Will, if guardians are not appointed for your children, the family court would choose among family members to appoint your children to. For expats in Hong Kong, if no family members are present your children would be placed in an orphanage! It will then be upon the courts’ decision to decide who, if anyone, is best fit to care for them.
Having a Will allows you to appoint guardians you’d want to raise your children.
No 3 – Choose Executors
When choosing who will administer your estate make sure to appoint someone who is organised, that you trust and who is honest. The executors of your Will will make sure that all your affairs are in order, from bank accounts and bills to business affairs. Executors have an important role in executing your Will according to your wishes and thus, another important reason to have a Will- to ensure the wind up of your estate and affairs are left in good hands.
No 4 – Avoid Lengthy Probate
Even with a Will probate is no walk in the park and takes some time, as the purpose of probate is to administer your estate. Passing on without a Will, known as dying intestate, probate can be a nightmare as the court decides how to divide your estate without your known wishes! Having a Will speeds up the probate process and allows the court to administer your estate according to your wishes.
No 5 – Ease Grieving
Losing a loved one is an immensely difficult period. Wouldn’t you want to make grieving less difficult for your loved ones?Writing a Will avoids having loved ones to deal with lawyers and administration during a time of sadness.
Don’t let procrastination get in the way of having a Will. Avoid unwanted stress on your family and protect them during an emotional time. Talk to our great Phoenix Wills Team about writing your Will and planning your estate.