The Best Time to Make a Will? Today!
Nobody likes to think about his own death, but believe me, it’s one of the most important things each of us needs to do. I have seen too many families grieving for a loved one who were also faced with the terrible problems that follow when that person did not make a will.
So right now, today, I want you to think about preparing for the end of your life and begin to plan what you want to happen with all your money and things you own. Think about how to ensure that the people who are dearest to you in this world will find some financial support or benefit from your estate after you are no longer here.
Ex-pats please note:
REGULATION (EU) No 650/2012 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 4 July 2012 Article 5 states:
“1. Where the law chosen by the deceased to govern his succession pursuant to Article 22 is the law of a Member State, the parties concerned may agree that a court or the courts of that Member State are to have exclusive jurisdiction to rule on any succession matter.”
Brexit Note: If you are from the UK and you die intestate (without a valid will in Portugal) after Brexit, when the UK is no longer part of the EU, a lot more of the soft stuff will surely hit the fan.
The lesson is: Make a new will in Portugal. Do it now, and then keep it up to date by reviewing it every five years or so, as your assets change or you decide to change details, and add or remove beneficiaries.
Your Will: Things to think about…
* Spouse/Partners: If you are married or have a co-habiting partner, they may not automatically inherit your estate; you need to name them as heirs in your will.
* Children and Step-children: Who will you nominate as their guardian after your death? And what if your spouse or partner dies before or around the same time as you? What financial provisions – e.g. setting up a Trust Fund, could you make to ensure your children’s security? You must also inform your lawyer if you and your partner are not the biological parents of any children in your family.
* Burial or Cremation: You need to decide which of these is right for you. Do you want your body to be repatriated to your home country? If you have no particular religious affiliation, you might want to consider alternatives to the usual church or crematorium funeral services, and a plot within a normal cemetery. Be aware that Portuguese cemeteries are rarely extended and almost always overcrowded. Bodies are buried just one meter deep, and (usually) after three years the legal “lifting of the bones” takes place to provide a space for a new gravesite occupant. Here’s an interesting article you’ll enjoy:
* Executors: Who should act as the executor(s) of your will? This is a highly responsible and often time-consuming job. Ideally, you should choose someone caring and responsible with a financial and/or legal background who is fluent in Portuguese. Whether you nominate a family member, friend, lawyer, bank manager or accountant, you need to ASK them first whether they are willing before writing it into your will. And you should make sure they receive proper recompense for their time. Professional fees for this service are almost always on a set sliding scale depending on the value of your estate.
* Probate: This “proving” of the will is the legal process that follows a death. Both your lawyer and your executor(s) will be involved, as it requires: a formal visit to the Court to verify that the will is valid; making an inventory of the deceased’s assets (the Estate); having this Estate appraised (property, personal belongings, private art collections, etc.); paying all outstanding debts and taxes – e.g. to the State; and distributing what remains to the heirs. Sometimes, if a will has not been kept up to date to show the current addresses of heirs, it can take a long time to trace them and inform them of the terms of the will.
* Contesting a Will: It is vital that you make a will using expert legal guidance to ensure it is carefully worded, correctly drawn up, and witnessed. A more informal expression of your wishes (written or verbal) could leave the door open to arguments among your heirs – or people who feel they should have benefited from your will – maintaining that it contains mistakes, does not recognise their valid claims, or ignores what they consider to be a later document that supercedes the will in question.
You can find more information about ‘Succession in Portugal’ on these links:
Don’t procrastinate. If you own assets in Portugal – property, bank accounts, vehicles, etc. now is the time to make a will. Ring me for an appointment to discuss your requirements today.