Estate planning goes beyond wills

Estate planning is an important if not essential task that everyone should be concerned about. This is especially true if you are married or have children, if you own a business or hold substantial assets that you want to protect if you pass away or are incapacitated, particularly in today’s global environment where families, residences, domiciles, and assets can be located across multiple jurisdictions.

Estate planning is more than a will

A last will and testament is an essential component of an estate planning strategy. It is a legal document that communicates your final wishes regarding your possessions and, in some instances, your dependents. This is accomplished by appointing one or more executors to manage your estate after your passing, ensuring that every instruction and distribution is carried out.

A will however only takes effect after you pass away. What happens if you are alive but temporarily or permanently incapacitated, unable to make decisions for yourself or to care for your family or your business? Consider integrating an “advance directive” into your estate plan to deal with these possible situations. An advance directive is a document by which you make provisions for certain critical decisions if you become unable to make those decisions on your own. They can also be used to grant legal decision-making authority to another person to be your advocate and agent during a crisis period.

Springing Power of Attorney

This is a type of advance directive that appoints someone to be your attorney-in-fact, to act for you if and only if you become incapacitated (it springs into action, hence the name). You can control the scope to be general and broad reaching or limited and narrow in scope. Springing powers of attorney usually cover such decisions as: health and medical decisions, financial decisions, or the temporary care, custody, and control of any minor children. If something should happen and you don’t have a document like this in place, local laws or the courts may assume authority over these decisions either directly or through a conservator or guardian or even well-meaning but mis-guided relatives. A springing power of authority will remain in effect for as long as you remain incapacitated or until your death but is automatically rescinded once you are of sound mind and body and regain the ability to make decisions on your own.

Living Will

A living will is another type of advance directive specific to end of life care. You record your wishes regarding future treatment if you become unable to express your informed consent. This would cover such things as resuscitation, life sustaining treatment, and end of life care regarding nutrition and hydration that you do or don’t want to receive.

Trusts are not a viable estate planning option in Thailand

Trusts are legal structures that create fiduciary (“trusted”) relationships in which one party, the trustor, gives another party, the trustee, the right to hold title to property or assets for the benefit of a third party, the beneficiary. Trusts are used to legally protect assets. A trust may be used to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes or are consolidated and saved for distribution later. Because they aggregate assets, they can save time, reduce paperwork, and, in some cases, help avoid or reduce inheritance or estate taxes.

You have a certain level of flexibility with trusts regarding what they cover, when they are executed, and whether they can be amended once put in place. These reasons are why many specialists suggest trusts as an estate planning solution.

However, Thailand, along with other (usually civil law) jurisdictions, does not recognize trusts as special structures. Some benefits, especially regarding inheritance or estate taxes, may not be available through trusts for your assets in Thailand. Nevertheless, an expert in estate planning and family law, such as GPS Legal, can offer you practical, effective alternatives for your Thai assets or customized trust solutions for your offshore assets.

Protect your estate with GPS Legal’s assistance

GPS Legal has the experience to ensure that your estate is executed to your specific requirements. Whether your assets are in Thailand or abroad, whether you need a springing power of attorney or a living will, whether you need a trust or alternate solution, GPS Legal will work with you through every step, so that you, your family, your business, and your assets are protected. Contact GPS Legal today for your free initial consultation and find out how.