My name is Noel Ranson, a Senior Consultant with Business Class Asia, and I am sure you are more than well aware that Covid- 19 is with us and not going away for the foreseeable future. The numbers just keep on rising and the new normal, cycle of freedoms, limited and unlimited and Lockdowns is upon us. With waves of Covid the plague that will not go away, a rinse and repeat cycle across the globe, with no sign of total vaccination any time in the next year, except maybe the UK and USA.
This brings me to the point I want to share. Earlier this year my Father at the age of 76 died due to Covid with him in the UK and me in Thailand. My sister his only other immediate family in hospital with Covid in a coma fighting for her life. This left me with the task of arranging details for his funeral and putting his finances in order. Plus making sure that once my sister came out of hospital she had a roof over her head to recover (yes she did survive after 5 weeks in a coma).
I have been a financial advisor since 1999 in one role or another, yet me and my father had only ever had limited conversations about Wills and life assurance and what he wanted done on his death. His death was sudden and unexpected and raised a number of problems and stressful situations, which even though this is my job I still was not in control of the situation.
Let’s start with the basic first thing that everyone should do, the Will. My father had a Will which was discovered 3 weeks after his death by his ex-wife of over 20 years divorced. She had to be included in the process as I was unable to get out and back to Thailand to physically be in the UK. So this solved several questions. He wanted to be cremated which I did not know, he wanted to leave his assets to me and my sister on an equal basis and his books (he was a prolific reader of 4 or 5 books a week) left to charity and the library. At his funeral he wanted at least 1 Queen Song played, his favourite band. This Will as basic as it was allowed us as a family to carry out his final wishes and made it easy to decide what we could do to honour his wishes.
The reason I share this personal information is that this is a situation which happens in Covid and non Covid times. Yet we don’t tend to talk about it or plan accordingly.
Other problems being in Thailand and not living in the UK for 11 years. Trying to get my father’s bank account with no credit profile in the UK. Then arranging the Death certificate and the brilliant lady who emailed me the death certificate even though they are only allowed to post it, and I have no UK address. The brilliant UK government website which will allow them to tell the various departments to cancel the driving licence, pensions and anything government related.
A side note on UK rental law, my father rented the house that him and my sister lived in and had lived there 20 years. My sister was not on the tenancy agreement. This means that she had limited rights to continue to live in the property and as she was in hospital the landlord could have entered the property and evicted her after serving legal notice. Please make sure that family members over 18 are named on any tenancy agreements which is a simple process and would negate this unnecessary stress. The Landlord after me talking to him and explaining all these facts was kind enough to give my sister over a month to move out when she was out of hospital.
What you should consider as an expat. How can I protect myself and my loved ones?
- Health Insurance – In the event you get sick how much is your health and life worth. Would you rather be in whatever local country health system is available overstretched, under staffed and under resourced. Or the best available hospital that will immediately admit you and do everything they can to help you.
- Life Assurance – Not for the living, but if you love your family, why would you not have the minimum amount to bury you or send your body home and bury you? Plus how are your family going to live when you are dead, what lifestyle are they going to have then? If you love your family make sure they are financially secure if something does happen to you.
- A Will – This is an absolute must for anyone. Firstly it is a legal document informing people what should happen with your assets. Secondly it also tells everyone if you have specific wishes i.e. cremation, special funeral arrangements, charitable donations, specific items you want people to have. Importantly make sure that every country you have assets in you also have a separate Will in that Country, and compliant with the Country concerned, and if need be in the language of the country.
- Trust planning – A discretionary Trust is easy and cheap set up. It means that there is no probate required as it’s outside your estate. It also means that the laws of Intestacy don’t apply as it does not form part of your estate. It will make sure that your assets get to your loved ones quickly or slowly if required. A Trust has Trustees and in conjunction with a Will forms a great legal structure to make sure that instructions are followed for how your assets and monies, wishes are carried out. This also provides a structure to make sure that if there are several beneficiaries in multiple jurisdictions then this can all be decided already in how much and who inherits what. Money changes people no matter how well all previous children and partners and second families get on whilst you are alive, this can change when you die. This also allows for young children to be provided for at a future date, for University or weddings or specific dates like 18th or 21st birthdays before they inherit money. This makes sure that the money goes to provide a lifestyle for the correct people involved. It also stops family members getting involved, and maybe taking and using the money before your children require the money.
Thank you for reading and if this has prompted one person in to action or helped one person then I am happy to have assisted you.
If you want any help with individual advice regarding any of the above information please feel free to contact me.