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“…Because in the end each end is also a beginning.”
Death is an ending of one’s physical being and the beginning of eternal rest. It is the end of life on earth and the start of the life beyond. We say goodbye because it is the end of what we used to do together but ever hopeful that we meet each other again in the heavenly realm.
The recent death of our mother at age 75 was very sad to say the least. No words can explain the sadness we felt and we continue to feel as there are yet too many things we want to do with her and for her…too many words we wanted to say…so many stories we wanted to share. We continue to do so but it is never the same.
The painful ending though sparked a new beginning for us siblings she left behind. It is the beginning of a collaboration in a venture we know would have given her joy if she was still around as the idea came up over 20 years ago but never took off. On a road trip, together in one car, the name of the small resort we decided to build came up – VirCris Resort – in honor of Virginio (our father who passed away 36 years ago) and Cristita (our mother). It will be built on the farm lot they left behind passed on to our mother by our grandparents. Certainly, a sentimental piece of land for the family.
It is our very first business collaboration together…each one sharing resources and talent to make this dream a reality. We had business ventures in the past but it was with one sibling or the other but never the four of us together.
Wealth or fame is never our aim here. Rather, it is honouring our parents and to create a channel where their generosity and compassion continue to flow.
In my over 30 years in the financial services industry, I’ve encountered so many happy and sad stories on estate distribution and quite a number of these can be traced to wrong advice of simply “copying” what other family members or friends did with their properties or failing to make a wealth distribution plan.
Our values and goals as well as aspirations differ from others and as our circumstances change, some of these change too. Thus, it is important that we review our estate plan if we have started with it already or prioritise drafting it if we haven’t started yet. I am sure that the reason why we invest and accumulate assets is to live a quality life and ensure that our children as well as our children’s children live comfortably as well.
Many think that Estate Planning is only for the rich. No it is not! It’s for middle-class families like most of us who have started buying assets and the best time to think about what to do with these assets is while everything is going well with us. That way, a more thought-of and well-processed distribution may be carried out.
The following is a guide to start the process (credits to Martin Ledesma, a fellow veteran in the financial services sector who I consider an expert in this area having guided family corporations actually implement arrangements related to Estate Planning and Distribution):
Make an inventory of your Assets (indicate the estimate value of each)
Know which ones you own and which ones you co-own (by virtue of the property regime in place at the time of the celebration of your marriage which dictates the ownership of these assets).
Decide which ones you keep and which ones you will transfer now (depending on the purpose of the assets: is it to be used as your passive income when you retire or is it something you can transfer now to your child/children as something you want them to have or is it both of these?)
Devise a plan on what to do with the ones you keep (considering their function to you and your loved ones) and provide for payment of estate taxes (a life insurance policy enough to pay the estate taxes due is your best option; make sure you provide enough life insurance for the needs of your family too especially if your kids are still young).
Estate Planning is not only about reducing taxes but more importantly, it’s about keeping the family ties intact for what good are our riches if your family ends up not talking to each other anymore?
Prepare your estate while you’re around to give your family the wisdom that only comes from you and the life you lived.
For a more comprehensive reference on Estate Planning in the Philippine context, I highly endorse the book “Thy Will Be Done” by Atty. Angelo Cabrera, whose field of practice is Estate and Business Succession Planning. His book is written in a very interesting manner complete with real-life stories. (It is available at Amazon).