Many of those who have worked around the world sometimes find they have accumulated assets and investments in multiple jurisdictions along the way. Most are not aware that every country will have a different procedure for how these are passed on in the event of death, and a lengthy probate process can be a nightmare if your loved ones are relying on the funds for daily living or children’s education. Having a will in place helps, but usually alone is not sufficient to avoid a probate scenario, especially if it can be contested by someone. Nobody wants to see their life savings go towards legal fees, just to ensure their wishes are followed and their loved ones protected.
Many expats in Myanmar could find the situation even more difficult as they cannot legally register a marriage to a local. Thus a local woman would have a hard time proving a claim in a foreign court if there is not a documented marriage. As with many interracial marriages in Southeast Asia, the prospect of dealing with the legal systems of foreign countries, which could be Western, or in somewhere such as Dubai, while in the midst of grieving, would be extremely daunting. I would never wish for my wife to have to go through such an experience, especially when it is very easy to make sure it never happens.
A very simple way to avoid probate altogether is to consolidate all of your financial investments to a secure offshore structure that allows for a simple beneficiary nomination form to ensure your intentions will be carried out swiftly and avoid probate. I tend to the favour the Isle of Man usually, because of the favourable tax environment combined with the political stability of the UK. If you set up a portfolio bond here for example, a signed beneficiary nomination form is all that is required to ensure your loved ones are paid out essentially as quickly as the underlying assets can be sold and converted into cash.
While estate planning isn’t something many want to think about because it deals with a rather gloomy topic, it really does make a lot of sense to tidy up yours sooner rather than later. Death can come at any moment for any of us, and while this is an unpleasant reality of life, it is something many neglect to plan for. Unfortunately if you do neglect to plan, it will be your loved ones who could suffer. A few simple steps can ensure that when it comes time to grieve, there isn’t the added stress of how to survive the next few years while waiting for the probate process to finish.
David Mayes MBA provides wealth management services to expatriates throughout Southeast Asia, focusing on UK Pension Transfers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Faramond UK is regulated by the FCA and provides advice on pensions and taxation. Views expressed here are his own.