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Wills and estate planning in the spotlight again

Wills and estate planning in the spotlight again

Wills and estate planning

One of the most interesting aspects of my job is taking instructions from my clients when they are doing their estate planning. It is great to discuss with my clients how they have accumulated their assets and what plans they have to ensure that the assets are passed on to their beneficiaries.

In many relationships, the husband and wife (or de facto partners) usually see me to give me instructions for a mutual will. Very often, the parties say to me ” If I die, I wish to give everything to my spouse”. That sounds so great and loving. Both spouses will look at me with a smile and say they both agree.

I then tell them to consider this: If you have children and you give everything to your spouse,

especially if the children are still young, what could possibly happen?

Well, your spouse could possibly remarry in the future. If they remarry, the new spouse will have a claim on the whole estate to the detriment of the children.

This is where it gets interesting as I get different responses from each spouse. Suddenly it clicks in the wife’s brain.

“Oh yes, my husband will definitely quickly marry a pretty young blonde. My children will lose out”

The husband often has a different view thinking his loving wife will remain single after his death, mourning the loss of him, her beloved husband.

I did have such a case where I acted for a client whose husband and my client used to go on cruises every year.

The husband passed away and I was told by my client that she still continued going on cruises with her husband even after his death. Perplexed, I asked her how was that possible.

She told me that his ashes were in an urn which she brought on her cruises. “Wow” I said. “You must really have loved your husband”.  I then asked her what she does on the cruises and she said she goes dancing. I did not ask her more. Suffice to say, 6 months later she came to see me to prepare a new will as she was going to marry someone she met on the cruise.

So, you never know where love will lead you. However, see a lawyer for advice regarding your will to prepare you for where your love leads you. A lawyer should be able to guide you to the best way to ensure your assets are protected and gifted properly to the ones you love.

Raymond Tan

Lawyer and Author of The Law in Black and White and the Yellow in Between.