Last Updated on 10, April 2014
I read with great amusement in the newspaper about a heiress who left S$16.5m to her 3 dogs upon her demise. Now, her son is challenging her Will in court (see article Son's fury as heiress mother leaves £8m to her DOGS, £17m to her housekeepers... and just £650,000 to him< ).
Well, perhaps that is what the rich people do with their money like leaving large sum to dogs. But on a more serious note, many not-so-rich people also do similar things too. While they do not leave things to their dogs explicitly, they also do not leave anything to their love ones but instead to unknown people and hence having the similar effect as to leaving dogs.
Everyone whether rich or poor guards their wealth closely. For a house, one will only give the keys to certain trusted individuals. For valuables, it will be placed under locks and keys. For money with a bank, the internet-banking password, userid and token are kept in secret. Since all mortals have to leave this planet earth one day, the house, the safe and bank accounts are all open for grabs. There is a law on how these assets are to be inherited by certain specific individuals. But what is stated on paper and what really happens is not the same thing. Why? Because there is no auditor and no policeman to ensure assets are given to the legal rightful owners. Legal rightful owners have to enforce their rights through costly legal battles. That is why lawyers’ job is quite a nice job. Instead of allowing others to engage in costly legal battles and get wounded by emotional scars, it is better to plan for it.
For the past half a year, I’ve been focusing on estate planning for parents with young children. Partly because I am a parent of very young children and thus the subject matter is close to my heart. It is very easy for me to identify the needs of a parents and children. I am aware that ALL parents do not plan for the unforeseen event. Every parent thinks they are immortals and will always be there for their young children. In recent years through better education and improved information efficiency via the internet, more and more parents are aware that they can get cheap term insurance to provide for the lost of income in the event of death of the sole breadwinner. I like to see the face of my clients when I show them the price of a cheapo $1m term insurance. Their first reaction is – why nobody showed it to them. Their second reaction is: “I’ve been cheated to buy unwanted insurance.” Among the very few who are already well insured (usually because they DIY and NOT because their agents advised them so), I’ve NOT come across any who has figured out how to ensure their assets, including the insurance payout, are transferred to their dependents upon the demise of the sole breadwinner in a practical way. In practice, such monies probably end up in the casino or are simply unaccounted for through lavish spending by custodians.
I am often amused to find individual parents who have no qualms in spending $3000 in upgrading their notebooks, committing themselves to $95 monthly mobile subscription (which accumulatively cost thousands of dollars) in order to get a free iPhone, paying tens of thousands of dollars in stamp duty in property speculation, and spending $80,000 in a car which is not needed. Yet, they do not even set aside any budget to ensure their love ones are taken care through careful planning. Is the young baby not more important than that iPhone, notebook and car? Is the thrill for property speculation more important than the own flesh and blood? How much have you lose by investing in stocks and unit trusts?
This article also apepared on CPF's IMSavvy / IM$avvy website:http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/blog_post.asp?postid=570731262-111-3620722293
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Haha, it’s exactly becoz of estate planning that most of the wealth went to the dogs & domestic help instead of to the son. The heiress even bothered to spell out what happens after the dogs die. Mother knows best — some kids just don’t deserve a free lunch or lifetime golden spoon. Come on, the son gets 650,000 pounds — how many people on Earth gets to see such a lump sum in their entire lifetimes? If no estate planning her 26M pounds will probably disappear within 3 years under her son (intestate laws).