10 legacy tips for parents travelling without kids
Photo: Tierra Mallorca/Unsplash
Consider this scenario.
A middle-aged couple is planning a holiday. Their two children won’t be joining them. Although they are both old enough to take care of themselves, the parents are apprehensive about the impending trip. What if something were to happen to them? How would the children manage? What about legacy issues? Their anxiety is understandable. In the past the family had always travelled together.
There is more to a personal tragedy than mental and emotional trauma, and the financial burden that comes with it. There is also the daunting task of resolving family matters. This can be particularly challenging for children, however old, if they are unaware of their parents’ financial holdings and other assets.
Grief is inevitable and ebbs with time. But parents can make it easier for the children to sort out the family’s affairs and move on with their lives by putting it all down in writing before taking that flight out.
Here’s a short list:
1. Write down your existing assets and properties. Add new ones as soon as you acquire them. Not the next day or next week. Include all the essential details about every valuable possession.
2. Write it the old-fashioned way, using a notebook or a long book. There is no safer option than a physical book. Write in a format of your choice with heads and subheads, rows and columns. Customise it according to your needs.
3. You can, if you like, store the information on your personal laptop (though, never on your office laptop) as well as in an external hard disk, to serve as a backup. Update these every time you make an official entry in the book.
4. Keep the book and the hard disk in a secure place. Tell your children (or your spouse if you’re travelling alone) where they can find both in the event something was to happen to you.
5. Take stock of everything—assets and properties—you and your spouse own singly or jointly. This includes but is not limited to cash in hand or cash in bank, investments (equity stocks, mutual funds, bonds, deposits, retirement or pension funds, etc.), real estate, life insurance, jewellery and ornaments, among other things.
6. Aside from investments, make sure to include other details vis-à-vis bank and demat accounts, credit and debit cards, loans, mortgages and other financial obligations, tax records, health, car and other non-life insurance, and logins and passwords (including social media accounts).
7. Keep your Will ready. Clearly mention the names of beneficiaries (your loved ones) of your assets and property along with their shares. Apart from your financial assets and real estate, you can also include collectibles and items of sentimental value.
8. Leave a set of clear instructions on what needs to be done, especially about your more valuable assets like investments and real estate.
9. Make a list of names and contact details of people you trust—close relatives, friends and colleagues—who can help your children (or family) in case of an emergency or an unforeseen event.
10. Finally, having written it all out, explain to your children why you felt it was necessary to maintain a family record or a family wealth journal. They will appreciate your thoughtful act and in time follow your example.
Maintaining a continuous record of the family’s affairs is a small but significant step towards safeguarding your financial and other interests, and living—or holidaying—in peace.