First, some history…
Halloween takes root in age-old European traditions, originating with the Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. The day marked the beginning of Winter, a time associated with hardship, darkness and human death.
The festival of Sumhain was celebrated on the night of 31 October each year with bonfires and people who donned marks to ward off ghosts of the dead. Many believed that on this night the boundaries between the two worlds could be crossed. In later years it became known as All Hallows’ eve which took on the name Halloween thereafter.
Remember before it’s too late
Death itself is a scary subject. Often it has a bad stigma and is not something people like to talk about. Yet as Mark Twain once said,
“The only two certainties in life are death and taxes.”
Often as a financial advisor I come across clients who either don’t want to believe death can happen to them or haven’t even thought about it. Sounds crazy, but ask yourself while you read this article, have you had a serious sit down with your better half and discussed it? I bet you, the older you are the more likely the answer will be yes, and the younger you are, the more likely it will be no.
So yes, we all die. It’s a fact. However, not all of us need to leave behind the scary monsters we have lurking in our finances or portfolios, made through a lack of planning.
What options do you have?
Well, in my industry, there are some basic options that greatly impact your current well-being as well as legacy. A lasting Will & Testament should be the beginning you need to the end you want.
It can be a cheap piece of paper that will suddenly become a very expensive mistake should you not have it – the effects felt far and wide by your family.
Avoiding the inevitable
The transcript becomes the actions taken. The words can provide relief to those left behind. So be thoughtful about what needs to be done and how it must be done upon your departure from this earth.
And just as we’ve seen in countless horror films or series such as The Walking Dead, Zombies although moving are but imitations of a real existence and cannot come back to full life. Similarly, it is my view that you too cannot rule from the grave. You can’t add terms and conditions to existing agreements or lack thereof. And the truth is that without a will in place, your unsigned executor won’t be present to check up on your heirs for the rest of their lives and whether they are sticking to your wishes.
Not making provision for your estate and affairs while you have the chance only leaves your loved ones with a cold reminder of what could have been.
So commit first and foremost. Then keep it simple where possible. My advice is to use an advisor to give you guidance regarding tax implications, liabilities and their impact together with legal costs, the correct use of a trust fund and other pertinent advice. Also bear in mind that it is always the last dated will that gets executed on, as-long-as the person was of sound mind at the time of writing the Will.
Watching from the other side
It will also require witnesses to be present when the will is signed. Those witnesses can’t be beneficiaries of the will. It’s always a clever idea to note who the witnesses were when recording the will. This caters for any disputes down the road.
Another point to bear in mind is that where you have assets in more than one country, it may be advisable to have a will in each respective country. Just bear in mind, that the wording must indicate that the will only pertain to the assets of that country. If not, the last will signed becomes the instruction applied to all assets no matter where they reside.
Who will take care of them?
If you have children, you don’t want them to be knocking on doors after Halloween asking for treats, if you no longer are here to provide. You need to specify and arrange guardianship. It is also a good idea for the guardians to be made aware that they will be fulfilling that role well in advance and to specify the necessary financial support within your will so as not to burden the caregivers. This would only come into effect if both biological parents are no longer able to take care of the kids.
Another mistake some people make is to think that updating a will means that all your policies beneficiaries are automatically updated. This is not the case. If you change your beneficiaries in your will, you would also need bear in mind to change your beneficiaries on your policies.
Make today count, now and every year in the future with one simple move
These are some of the tips we at Stringfellow Advisory Services, offer our clients. We keep things practical, taking time to understand your specific needs.
So rather than having to leave a scary experience for your loved ones, leave a lasting capital legacy that makes their lives less complicated. Speak to one of our experienced Wealth planners at Stringfellow today to have your will drafted.
Look out for our next Halloween article.