Morgan & Morgan
June 30, 2022 - Panama
Why should commit to estate planning?
by Morgan & Morgan
Throughout my career as a banker and as an attorney, as well as through experiences with friends and their families, I have noticed that there is no topic more taboo than talking to someone about their death and how they intend to distribute their accumulated assets during their lifetime. It is incredible that, for many, this topic is so difficult to face with an objective mind to leave their estate affairs in order, no matter how small it may be. After all, as the flamboyant singer of the band The Doors, Jim Morrison, said when referring to life:
"Nobody gets out of here alive."
There are many practical reasons to create a legal structure that allows your estate to be distributed according to your wishes and for the benefit of your loved ones. There is nothing worse than leaving an estate without a secure destination and at the mercy of the courts.
Why should we do estate planning? Please consider one of the following reasons:
- Your plan should minimize the probability of conflicts, jealousy, disappointments, and disputes (including legal) among your children. Example: Emilia's parents left her a large portion of their inheritance to cover her medical expenses, but her brother Juan Carlos feels that this distribution was unfair, that she influenced their decision, and now the siblings are not speaking to each other.
- Your plan must protect your assets from the human and the economic conflicts that may arise during your last years of life. For example, using a private interest foundation or a trust allows you to enjoy the assets without them being in your name, therefore, they will be far from legal or judicial actions by reckless third parties.
- Your plan must ensure that your wishes are followed. The effectiveness of an estate plan will largely depend on who you choose as your agent after you die. Choosing this person or institution is a decision that should be weighed very seriously and with an open mind.
- Your plan must mitigate the possibility that the surviving spouse will use the funds for other than the intended purpose. Example: You leave your entire estate to your beloved wife of 30 years with the assurance that she will do right by your children upon your death. It turns out that your widow falls madly in love, after a period of mourning, with another gentleman who has totally different plans with the money your wife inherited. Do you think it hasn't happened? Don't be naive.
- Your plan should reduce the legal costs, considerably, that your heirs will incur if you have not established a legal and orderly succession. Remember that intestate successions can take months in our country and are subject to the intervention of third parties in good or bad faith, and entail legal fees and expenses.
Listed above are some reasons why, if you have already accumulated some wealth and have a family, you should consider setting up an estate plan. Let yourself be guided by specialized and experienced advisors in these matters and save your heirs a headache.
Alvaro Tomas A.
MMG Trust, S.A.