Estate Planning Is For The Entire Family

Johann Tay

Senior Estate and Succession Practitioner
Will And Legacy Pte Ltd
Precepts Legacy

In this issue of The Custodian, Johann Tay says problems and solutions in Estate Planning are typically unique to each family.

When did you become a Precepts Estate & Succession Practitioner (ESP)?(ESP) at Precepts?
January of 2012.

What prompted you to consider a career and business as a Precepts ESP? Why did you choose Estate Planning?
My father, Teng Pong, an experienced estate planning professional, founded Will & Legacy Pte Ltd. After working with a dear partner who passed away, I joined to explore the business. Aware of its long-term nature, I’ve been committed to its success.

What difference did Precepts make in your journey?
Precepts, with a firmly established industry standing, faces fewer obstacles. Recognising contemporary family needs, it offers a comprehensive suite of solutions. While some competitors are just now adopting a “holistic” approach, Precepts embraced this vision from the start. A leader in Estate Planning, it pioneers solutions such as trusts for CPF monies and integrates AI into processes. Proactive in adapting to societal changes, Precepts strives to remain at the forefront of innovation in serving families.

What are some of your core beliefs for Estate Planning?
Estate planning transcends net worth, rather it focuses on life circumstances. Let me provide an example: A client with a modest net worth of S$3-5 million had a consult, and we deduced that all he required was a straightforward Will, with a testamentary trust, costing around S$1,000. Conversely, a family with average income and a special needs child (SNC) facing severe autism had complex needs. Their concern for equitable care led to the necessity of a Standby Trust, Wills, and Lasting Power of Attorneys (LPA), totaling over S$10,000. Despite the cost, it provided them peace of mind, addressing the challenges of ensuring a lifetime of care for their SNC, fair treatment for their other child, and alleviating guilt about potential neglect. The examples illustrate that Estate Planning’s essence lies in tailoring solutions to individual circumstances, emphasising its significance beyond financial wealth.

What do you think clients should look out for when they are doing their estate planning to distribute their wealth?
Wealth progression, from properties to digital assets, requires careful planning. Rushing into investments without an exit strategy is common. A client, about to purchase assets in Japan on the day he signed his Will, was alerted to its 55% inheritance tax rate. Obviously, he decided to have a second look at his intent. Seek guidance and do your homework.

We understand you regularly help individuals and families set up Trusts. What is the biggest challenge you face when you talk to them?
Growing awareness surrounds Trust concepts, often seen as exclusive to the wealthy. Through consults and public engagements, the realisation that a trust is accessible to everyone is spreading, bridging the gap in understanding its relevance for common individuals.

What are some of the principles you use to help them overcome these challenges?
Firstly, it must be an honest conversation: What keeps you up at night? Are you worried about your children’s futures and/or their relationships? Many think the conversations are mostly about wealth preservation, but they are not – they are about family preservation.

Another thing, Estate Planning is also not for the individual, but the entire family. My key tenet is that the family must be intact after the demise of the individual. If the family structure fractures, it would be something that disappoints me greatly.

How long is the normal process to complete a family wealth succession?
Individuals often realise their needs through consultations. This process identifies red flags, highlights blind spots, and establishes contingencies. Solutions vary, from a 2-meeting Will to a 6-month Standby Trust setup. There is no cookie-cutter solution.

What do you enjoy most about the business?
Meeting clients for the first time during consultations is common. Gaining their trust to reveal personal vulnerabilities is a profound privilege and honor, considering the absence of prior client relationships as a non-financial advisor.

Tell us more about what motivates you in this business?
Estate Planning’s dynamism means each family is unique, evolving with the changing world. Problems and solutions vary, making a perfect, universal solution unattainable. However, the ongoing evolution presents an exciting opportunity to explore tailored approaches for each family’s distinctive needs.

What do your colleagues and/or family members think about you being an Estate Planner?
My dad’s my boss, go ask him!

This article was first published in our newsletter, The Custodian Issue 29. Click here to access our latest newsletter.


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