Having recently attended the Step Asia Conference 2022 in Singapore, one of the key themes was Modern Families.
So, what are ‘Modern Families’?
The reality is that now, a high percentage of families do not fit the ’normal family category’ yet the laws with regard to estate planning have not kept pace with these changes.
A traditional family would normally be a husband and wife with kids all from the same country, and most countries have laws which are based around the traditional family.
A high percentage of families do not fit the ’normal family category’ yet the laws with regard to estate planning have not kept pace with these changes.
Examples of Modern Families are:
Single parent families
Same sex couples
Families where the parents come from different countries or have a different religion.
International families where assets are held in multiple jurisdictions and family members maybe live in different countries.
Blended families which are created due to divorce, remarriage and children through different spouses.
Families where the couple living together have not got married or legally had their relationship recognized.
Sadly, in most countries around the world, many of the above ‘modern families’ are not recognized and unless careful planning is arranged with regard to succession, disputes arise due to the inequitable way family assets are passed down without planning.
Typical issues which need careful thought could be any of the following:
A single parent not making proper plans for their children which may mean in the event of their demise the child/children being given away to someone who they have never known and who may not be suitable to bring them up.
Careful thought also needs to be given to the use of money to bring children up and who should be entrusted with that role. Conversations would need to be held with the chosen person to make sure they understood and accepted the role.
Other examples of a ‘modern family’ could be a married couple from different religious backgrounds. Some religions fail to recognize women in the same way others do and this could well cause complications if the husband was to die first without proper planning.
In the majority of countries same sex couples are not recognized and there are few laws, if any, with regard to estate planning for this type of modern family.
While the answer to the above issues for the modern family is not straight forward there are many tools which a good estate practitioner can use to overcome the issues facing a modern family and how they pass on their estate.
An estate practitioner should have access to all the following tools to create the optimum solution for clients; Wills, Trusts, Corporate Structures, Life Insurance. For modern families there is likely to be a need to use more than one solution to provide the complete solution.
For families that have spouses with different passports and who hold assets in multiple jurisdictions, it is likely that multiple Wills maybe required from different countries. There also maybe a need for multiple Trusts, Corporate Structures and Insurance and for the most complex families it is likely that more than one ‘estate practitioner’ will be required to cover the different jurisdictions.
The advent of ‘Modern Families’ makes the job of the ‘wealth advisor’ for these types of clients more complex and they need to be able to call on the expertise of other professionals.
The Astra Group having been providing advice and helping modern families over the last three decades. In this series, we will put together a series of videos to highlight some of the issues modern families face and what are the possible solutions. Click the button below to learn more.