Growth and Jobs | Estate Planning Is Key To Preventing Loved One Hardship – Legal Advisor | New

Hasani Haughton, Legal Advisor for the Jamaica National Group, urges Jamaicans to plan their estates appropriately to avoid further hardship for loved ones in the event of hospitalization or death.

The legal adviser explained that in his experience, many families face challenges when it comes to accessing the assets of their loved ones in the event of illness or death, as there has been no estate planning.

“I have seen where people have been hospitalized for stroke, heart disease, COVID-19, and there is nothing in place. Family members find it difficult to access personal resources to pay for their medical care, ”he said.

“I have also observed family members having disputes over the distribution of property after death, based on oral promises made by a deceased relative that conflict with the way property is distributed under the Act. law on intestates, inheritance and land charges. ”

Haughton added that the problem also stems from cultural beliefs.

“At my old workplace, I was part of a team responsible for educating the public about estate planning, and invariably, when I spoke with an audience, the person with a plan in place was usually the odd one out,” regardless of the size of the audience, ”he said.

“I have come across myths such as ‘making a will can lead to death sooner in your house’. Many people fail to cope with their own mortality and generally believe that they are not yet ready to make a will. Others believe they don’t have enough assets to prepare a will. Estate planning should start when you own any type of asset, no matter how insignificant you think it is, ”he explained.

Haughton stressed that estate planning is necessary to pay for medical expenses in the event of critical illness, and also to ensure the proper allocation of assets in the event of death.

“Estate planning for illness can be done through a combination of different instruments, such as power of attorney – this will give someone the power to act on your behalf in the event of serious illness and inability to carry out. your daily activities. You can also have joint bank accounts, insurance products such as critical illness insurance policies and health insurance policies, ”he added.

Haughton said contractors should also have a contingency plan for their operations in the event of illness.

“I would also advise entrepreneurs to have a contingency plan for their business. This could include documentation of major vendors, bankers, financiers, customers, assets and any other factors that contribute to the success of the business that a successor would benefit from knowing that they would be able to operate the business at the level where you were at before the illness, ”he added.

Haughton asserted that in the case of death planning, estate planning ensures that assets are distributed the way you desire.

“It will also help ensure that the personal representative (s) take immediate ownership of the assets, which will help preserve the value of the assets. The personal representative can be chosen by you and will be someone you trust, rather than someone appointed on the basis of the order of priority provided by law.

When the unthinkable happens without proper estate planning, Haughton said certain steps need to be taken to ensure parents have access to the assets.

“In the event of death, a concession of representation will be required to access funds held only in a bank account. Where there is a will, granting probate is usually a shorter process. If there is no will, an administration grant will be required and may take longer, ”he explained.

“If the deceased has children under the age of 18, then an administrative deed will be issued by the general administrator and the goods collected by the department and distributed to the beneficiaries. This is usually a longer process than the process where a will with a knowledgeable personal representative is in place. A representation concession is issued by the courts, ”he added.

Othneil Lawrence, senior manager – sales, JN Life Insurance Company, points out that in the case of life insurance, estate planning was also important.

“For insurance policies, the client must designate a designated beneficiary. This is part of the contract because the insurer will have to return the proceeds of a death claim to that designated beneficiary by law. However, the client can choose to designate their “estate” as beneficiary, ”he explained.

“However, if the client dies, all profits will go into the client’s estate. If the client dies without leaving a will, the distribution will be based on the Intestates, Estates and Charges Act. The personal representative will be determined according to the order of priority. However, if there is a minor, the Deputy Head of Jamaica will administer the estate. This is only accessible through a probated will; or, if the client dies without leaving a will, then family members will have to ask the deputy head to take over the administration of the client’s estate, ”he added.

Haughton added that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to estate planning. However, he advised people to explore their options carefully.

“A well-written power of attorney is a tool that can help access funds during their lifetime. It is essential to note that a power of attorney loses its validity in the event of death, ”he said.

“There are different types of estate planning tools and a combination of them may be appropriate, depending on your personal situation. My recommendation to people is to have a discussion with a lawyer and a financial advisor, who can advise you on what may be best for your situation.


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