The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted a tangible shift in mindset about mortality. Prior to the pandemic, people tended not to contemplate death and the impact that their demise may have on their loved ones. Unless you are old, this always seemed too far down the track to think about. The thinking was that you could always take the necessary action to ensure that the transition they face in the event of your death is smooth and comfortable later on.
What the pandemic has done is bring some of the actions that people should take more into focus. It has helped to spark honest conversations about how people should get their affairs in order to minimise any difficulties that their loved ones might face in the wake of their demise. In the past, such conversations were taboo, but the shared experiences of the pandemic have played its part in shedding this taboo. In Singaporean terms, it is not seen as so kiasu or kiasi to talk about this nowadays.
However, getting one’s affairs in order has been complicated by the host of uncertainties surrounding the pandemic as many global economies — including the economies of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia – shrink, and as more and more people lose their jobs on the back of pandemic restrictions that have hurt, and may continue to put pressure on, businesses across multiple industries.
Uncertainties continue to weigh
At present, no one knows when the uncertainties will dissipate and things get back to normal because no one knows when the pandemic will end and restrictions will be lifted. This has raised the spectre of the potential for further income shocks for people and erosion of their retirement nest eggs. Overall, a general feeling of unease about the future has been created that demands some order and reassurance.
To deal with such uncertainties, clear heads and plans of action are needed. Enter the estate planning industry. It is one of the few industries that has more than survived this pandemic on a strong footing because it serves a basic human need: Ultimately to ensure that your affairs are in order in the event of your death. No rational person wants to leave a mess for their families to deal with when they are no longer around.
If you don’t have many assets, the solution can be as simple as writing a will. But as people rise up the income ladder and own more assets across different geographical jurisdictions, there are many more issues to consider. This is when it may be increasingly important to engage with experts in legacy planning such as practitioners in the estate planning industry.
Now, estate planners consistently say that it is never too early for people to start planning for their retirements or deaths. Even millennials should do so once they start working and begin their asset accumulation phase. In the past, such talk may have appeared a bit too morbid for comfort, especially the death part of the equation. However, the pandemic has made it more of a truism than ever before.
Note: In our next article, we will look more deeply into why estate planning in these times of uncertainty matters.