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Terry Le Long is a will writer, for some of us having a will at any age is a sensible thing to have, some think they do not have enough assets to make having one worthwhile and others hope that old age and illness are a long way off and making a will is something that should be reserved for older people. However, it is vitally important that friends and relatives know what how you would like your assets to be disposed of after your death, and here Terry shares two stories with us to highlight just why having a will is so vitally important.
It won’t happen to me, I am a careful driver…..
How many times have we heard that or even said it ourselves, well a couple of true stories to get you thinking…
Mark has an ex-girlfriend, for 18 months after they split up he tries everything to get her, Goi, and his two children back (Adam and Eve, both under five). Goi tells him she won’t see him or let him see his children, she has moved on. So sadly, Mark takes his own life. Goi finds out and with keys to his property, she initially moves in, sells whatever of his belongings she can she can, camera and personal items, and rents out both his car and his motorbike. After a couple of months Goi returns back to her own home and rents out Mark’s the house out and pockets the rent along with the rent for the car and motorbike.
Mark’s ex-wife in the UK asks us as to look into probate in Thailand to split his assets between his two Thai children and his one UK daughter, Emma (12 years old). Simple you would think, but Mark didn’t have a Will naming his beneficiaries, so we went to court in Thailand, when we could find a Lawyer who would represent us, this was difficult as most said, “the Thai children should get it all, his UK child will be looked after by the state”. Finally, we found someone to represent Emma, over the next fourteen months we had to prove Emma’s relationship to the deceased by way of birth certificates, family trees and affidavits registered in the UK courts, the UK family spent around £1,200 on fees in Thailand alone. The Thai court made a ruling on the estate; the property, car and motorbike and 50% of monies went to Goi (ex-partner), the other 50% of his monies went in four shares, one to Goi, one to Adam one to Eve and one to Emma in the UK, but Emma had to apply for her share through the court, which she didn’t do because the cost of the application was more than her share of the gift. The outcome was Emma got nothing, but the legal fees. I waived my fee for 14 months work, as I didn’t want to add insult to injury.
Do you think that this is what Mark wanted, or was it that he didn’t get around to making a Will and was not in the right frame of mind when he took his own life, had he had a Will, his children would have been treated equally, with a third of the estate each, and his ex-partner would have been the trustee of her two children’s share.
John works on the oil rigs, and spends his down time living in Thailand, he has a girlfriend and baby boy, owns five properties that he rents out and life is good. While back in Thailand on leave, he has an accident on his motorbike coming back from the shops. Luckily, he survives, but is now in a coma, he never got around to making a Will or a giving someone he trusted Power of Attorney over his assets should he lose mental capacity.
What happens next? well a year later he is still in the coma, his family have applied for a “Deputyship Order” in the UK courts to allow them to manage his UK Assets, properties and bank accounts and his Personal Welfare, currently his accounts are frozen by the Courts, the gaining of an Order is a long and complex process and would normally take anything from nine months to two years to complete. They don’t even have a say in his personal welfare, the state make all his decisions for him.
At the outset his Thai girlfriend was supportive and helpful to his UK family, managing the properties and rents in Thailand, 12 months later, this has all changed, she now tells the family that all his Thai assets now belong to his son in Thailand, and refuses to give the family any of his personal items, she won’t even tell them what he owns or where his bank accounts are. The reality is they actually still belong to John as he is still alive and would not pass to his children until the eventuality of his death, he has two children in the UK from a previous marriage. With a Will (all of) his children are protected should he die, and with a Power of attorney he would have had someone he knew and trusted to continue to run his affairs until he was able to run them himself, or his Will took over. There would have been no need for a “Deputyship Order” in the UK or his family having to apply for a court order here in Thailand to manage his affairs, while his now ex-partner does the same. So why didn’t he get around to it, who knows, maybe you can answer the question, why haven’t you got around to it yet? Or is it not going to happen to you, or is your partner different…..
(names have been changed for legal reasons)
Terry is currently in Koh Samui so if anybody would like to contact him he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org