To most of us who own mobile phones, we have succession plans for those little devices, and even our cars, if we lost the use of the phone it would typically mean a few days inconvenience – however we fail to implement succession plans for the most important beings in our lives – for ourselves. It is incumbent of every adult to do engage in succession or inheritance planning, of course I’d say that wouldn’t I – more to the point, there are particular reasons it is in the interest of women to engage in inheritance planning.
• What succession planning is not – Succession planning is not a morbid activity relating to death or merely writing a will [we rightly call this ‘death planning’], rather this is the 3-step process of designing a bespoke plan to control one’s assets such that at the time the individual chooses, his or her assets pass to the people of their choosing with the minimum of fuss and expense and most importantly the peace of mind that your wishes would be carried out.
• Inheritance Planning as a part of financial planning – At some point in our lives, we would have done some financial planning [if only when we were looking to get a mortgage] but as a financial adviser of over 20 experience – I bet you a pound to a penny your adviser [or you might have done your planning DIY] skipped over succession planning – at its most charitable one would say it was simply a consequence of this not being in the toolkit of most financial planners. The mere fact of ignoring a phenomenon would not make the need for it go away.
Why inhertiance planning is important to women over 50
• Why inheritance planning is important to women of any age, but especially those over 50 – To my way of thinking, 50 is such a beautiful number because in sum, the best years of one’s life are still ahead of one – yes one couldn’t run as fast as one did when one was at school, but at this age, one shouldn’t be running for anything, athleticism counts for not a lot – a higher value is placed on wit, grace and prudence. Financial planning at that big birthday presents the opportunity to take stock of one’s financial achievements; goals and ambitions –typically one would be reviewing one’s pension planning, and investing lump sums and questioning the need for that life policy as one becomes an empty nester.
• Members of the ‘sandwich generation’ and their de facto inheritance planning obligations – my mother who celebrated her 50th birthday very many years ago, claimed she was a pioneer of the ‘sandwich generation’ by which she meant the relative prosperity of women of her generation obliged her to care for their children, and their parents. Sorry mum, this is the real sandwich generation, perhaps we are a club sandwich generation. The problem this presents is that unless one is particularly financially well off, womenfolk would be lumbered with the physical tasks of caring for aged and infirm parents and other relatives. In my experience, such expectations can only be avoided or shirked so far a mental audit of those for whom one might be expect to care should induce women to ask cajole, bully, beg such [often older] people to conduct their own succession planning so ladies over 50 are not left carrying the can.
• We’ve held talks and classes at which we discover that most people think the last will and testament is the most important element of succession planning – the will is only a close second. The most important element of succession planning is the lasting power of attorney – the power of attorney allows a person – we’ll say person A, with full mental capacity to grant powers to a loved one or carer to manage the financial and healthcare affairs of person A. The clue is to have the foresight to do it now, while person A still has full mental capacity.
• It is a sad fact of life in a matriarchal society that more [than half] of all wealth is held by men – women therefore have a duty to encourage the men in their lives to enunciate the manner in which they would like their assets to be controlled in the event they were unable, it is always the way that the women are left to pick up the pieces not only perform the functions of caring, but also the administrative remedial work required on account the preventative work not haven be done.
• Succession planning is not a question of intelligence [or heaven forbid, a tick box exercise], if it were, most folk would be able to undertake the activities involved by themselves – rather, succession planning is a matter of training and experience as while one’s intentions might be clear on the form one wants one’s affairs managed, the support of a suitably qualified practitioner is invaluable as in the course of your consultation, you would not merely be producing the relevant documents important though they are, but rather you would be guided through the process of ensuring the plans you drew up were bespoke to your needs, and as such sufficiently flexible to grow with you through the different stages of one’s life and beyond.
Oh, by the way, speaking of those shiny little devices – the mobile phones, we know when the contracts on them end, and often have plans regarding how to cope if they went wrong in the course of their working lives. That’s succession planning for the phone.
Ade Oduyemi is MD of Maximum Inheritance Specialists, experienced at helping folk pass on the fruit of the blood; tears; toil and sweat to their nearest using wills; trusts and powers of attorney.