I spent some time pondering on my own Will a month ago. So if you had read through my thought process, I was a little too focused on the assets. I thought it would be a good time, now that I am clearer, to take a step back to look at the overall picture of what else needs to be communicated when I leave.
Much of it is pretty much covered, for example your real estate, bank accounts and investments etc. This is common for most of us who are employees. I missed out on those who have businesses or self-employed. What happens to the earnings when you are dead?
Business interest. Only for sole proprietorship is there no perpetual succession. The business lives and dies with you. However for partnerships and companies, life goes on. Your stake in it (or percentage shareholding) is also an asset. Whether your successor take over the shares, or the shares is liquidated to the remaining shareholders, this is one asset that should not be overlooked.
Other assets. We look at some uncommon asset classes here. One area is passive streams of income. This include royalties from books/e-books sold, affiliate marketing commissions etc. Such income is recurrent and may not end even when the owner is dead.
Your estate distribution should include the FULL names of all your beneficiaries. Birth dates of your children are essential, so that the executor of the estate can deal with the maturity of the beneficiaries receiving the proceeds. E.g. a child who inherits money or property by being named a beneficiary of a will – these assets must be held by an adult appointed to act as guardian for the minor’s assets. It is often overlooked, but you do need to pass down instructions to designated parties in your will if you have children with special needs or concerns.
To prevent foreseen family disputes, it is also essential to determine early what is Fair versus Equal (or Equitable vs Equal). For example, should a child who has been working in the family business for 10 years receive share and share alike with another who has not worked in the family business at all? It is good to kickstart family meetings and have a conversation to truly understand the family’s view point while you are still alive.
So the decision to take care of your estate does not end off with just determining your beneficiaries. If you have children, especially children with special needs or requirements, you need to be extra mindful of their guardians for the long-term. Your trustees and executors should know who they are, and what they are supposed to do when the time comes.
You financial and medical agents (if required) should come in to make the appropriate decisions in both fields on your behalf when you are no longer able to or in the right state of mind to do so. To prevent unforeseen quarrels in the family, it is essential to be detailed right down to the level of organ donations, as well as after-death rites and preferences.
Even for your own death, planning for it is also a delicate affair. By planning our wishes for end-of-life, we not only leave a priceless gift for our loved ones, but also gain clarity on how we can live our best life.