THE Borneo Post with the expert help of Rockwills Trustee Bhd, the leading specialist in estate planning having pioneered wills and trust 28 years ago, is publishing a regular Q&A column on estate planning. It will feature questions which readers have in mind but don’t know who to ask.
Question 1: I have a son who works for a gaming company. My son often faces a lot of stress and often simply spends his money. I worry that my son would one day spend all his money after I am gone! What can I do about this?
Answer: One effective way to address this concern is by creating a Will. In a Will, you can state all your concerns and the instructions on how to distribute your assets to your son in accordance with your intention. Through a comprehensive Will, you can designate your personal representative to be your trustee who will be responsible for managing your assets following the condition you set for your son and ensuring that your son’s needs are taken care of.
Instead of allowing your son unrestricted access to his inheritance, you can provide partial inheritance to him when the specific conditions that you set are met. Additionally, you can also provide a monthly allowance for him until those conditions are fulfilled. To add an extra layer of control, you can include a clause that disqualifies your son from inheriting if he acts contrary to your intention or faces certain conditions such as bankruptcy. These measures can help ensure that your wishes are upheld.
In a nutshell, having a Will is of paramount importance. It provides a legal framework through which you can articulate your wishes for the distribution of your hard-earned assets and, ensure that your son can inherit your legacy without any hurdles. When writing your own Will, we suggest you engage a professional estate planner in helping you to carry out your intentions, so that instructions are clear, practical and can be carried out by the executor smoothly.
Question 2: My husband and I have been married for 25 years and have written a Will benefiting each other. Recently I suspect that he has an affair outside. If he does have someone he is seeing, I do not want any of my assets to go to that person. What can I do about my Will?
Answer: This is indeed a difficult situation to be in. If you’re considering making changes to your Will due to concerns about your husband’s affair, there are some steps that you should consider:
First and foremost, you can review your existing Will in particular on how your assets and estate would be distributed in the event of your passing. If your Will heavily favors your husband, it might be prudent to reevaluate the distribution manner.
Secondly, you should consider reviewing your life insurance policies and EPF nomination. In case you have nominated your husband, you may want to reconsider whether you would want to maintain or make changes.
Alternatively, you can also consider setting up a testamentary trust (that is included in the Will) or a living trust (independent of the Will) using the proceeds from your insurance and EPF to achieve controlled distribution. The trust enables you to appoint a trustee that you can instruct to provide the benefits from your trust assets over a period of time and to change beneficiaries in the event your husband remarries.
Thirdly, you should think about updating your list of beneficiaries and distribution to them. Ensure any changes you make align with your wishes and present circumstances. Depending on your relationship and circumstances, you can include your children, other family members, close friends, or any charitable organisations as beneficiaries in your Will.
Fourthly, if you have children who are minors and have not appointed an alternative guardian for them in your Will, and you no longer feel comfortable with your husband being the sole guardian for your children, then it is best for you to appoint a guardian that can work jointly together with your husband to take care of your children who are 21 years of age and below.
If your minor children require immediate support upon your passing and you are afraid that your husband might not adequately provide for them after your passing due to his affair, establishing a Trust as mentioned above would be best. The Trust empowers an appointed trustee to help distribute and manage your assets according to your instructions, ensuring that your children’s needs are met while circumventing the probate process. As a result, a Trust can facilitate immediate provision for your children upon your passing.
Regardless of the situation you are in, it is prudent to review your Will periodically to ensure that it reflects your current wishes and circumstances.
Remember, making changes to your will is a significant decision.
Consulting with an Estate Planner who specialises in estate planning will provide you with the necessary guidance to make informed choices based on your specific circumstances.