Many of us fall prey to the temptation to put off important but complicated tasks, especially legal woes, consigning them to the “too-hard-basket”. This can include things like creating a will, taking out life insurance, even formally getting a divorce. But what if you could hand such matters over to experienced experts? We asked three expats to recommend the people they turn to.
1. Legal Wills
A will is the mechanism by which money, real estate and personal property are distributed after your death. Professional Wills Limited can help you make this personal document – which should also stipulate the person responsible for your children if something should something happen to you.
Recommended by Alona Hodik
I found out about Professional Wills Limited over three years ago, when my husband and I were living in Hong Kong with our then baby girl. A couple of posts in an expat mums’ Facebook group mentioned that if something should happen to expat parents in Hong Kong, the children would become wards of the state – despite them having extended family to take care of them.
This information made me very nervous, as we had a baby and were thinking about expanding our family. We contacted Professional Wills because we wanted to make sure that we had an official document stating what should happen to our children if something were to happen to us.
Our will writer, Matthew Lloyd – who is now the company’s managing director – drew up two wills for us, together with temporary guardianship documents stating who would take care of our children until family arrived from abroad. My advice for readers who might require similar legal advice is to do your research and contact a reputable will-writing company.
Look for a professional will writer knows which product best suits you, and will draw it up in the simplest, most straightforward way. Writing a will wasn’t an easy thing to do, as you need to face your own mortality and make very difficult decisions. But Matthew and the team at Professional Wills made the whole process as easy and painless as possible, and I have recommended them to our friends.
2. Business Advice
Besides corporate, commercial and employment law, Consilium Law Corporation offers legal services including family law, foreign investment law and commercial and family mediation.
Recommended by Karen Cvornyek, B+H Architects
Consilium Law was recommended to us by business associates who had been working in the ASEAN region. We at B+H Architects were expanding our presence in Singapore and the surrounding region when we contacted them. We were seeking advice on contract law in the region: signing contracts with our clients for our architectural, interior design, landscape design and urban planning services – both government and private developers – as well as with our collaborative partners and sub-consultants like engineers and specialist consultants.
We found the professionals at Consilium Law to be extremely knowledgeable and proficient, while being sensitive to our financial thresholds. They were also skilful in assisting with negotiations to resolve sensitive issues.
They’ve assisted us in negotiating contracts with multiple parties across multiple borders, taking into consideration the complexities of doing business in Singapore and the surrounding countries.
The team members are also knowledgeable about international law, including in Canada, which has been very valuable for us in dealing with regulatory issues from head office. During our experience with Consilium Law we’ve found them to be efficient, pro-active, practical and resourceful. I definitely recommend the company to others.
3. Investment and Insurance
St . James’s Place Wealth Management provides face-to-face wealth management advice to individuals, trustees and businesses.
Recommended by Alistair Dickman
As part of my role in the distribution of insurance healthcare services, I became acquainted with one of the St. James’s Place Partners, Rob White.
Not only did Rob place business with us, but, on account of his knowledge and the services previously provided to me, I quickly decided to reciprocate and place my personal business with St. James’s Place.
My business with them grew through the relationship I had with Rob. It was also fortuitous because I wanted to invest in a pension scheme, start a new regular savings account and take out some extra life insurance.
I knew from my previous dealings with them that they would be efficient. My experience with St. James’s Place has been very good to date, and I would recommend them to others because they have done a great job for me.
Hoh Law Corporation is a fully fledged law firm that has a large established family law practice.
Hoh Law Corporation’s Margaret Yeow and Michael Han discuss the sensitive topic of divorce
Applying for a divorce in Singapore is relatively simple; locals and expats alike must satisfy the same three requirements:
First, you must have been habitually residing in Singapore for the past three years.
Second, you must have been married for three years before applying for divorce (or take out a separate application for an order to proceed).
Third, you must have grounds for divorce.
In addition, expats must prove that the marriage was registered in a foreign jurisdiction that endorses or recognises monogamous marriage. Essentially, the Singapore Court only recognises one generic ground for divorce: that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. This has to be proven by one or more of five facts, such as adultery, desertion or a sustained period of living apart.
Here are five tips to help you through this potentially complicated and emotionally stressful process:
- Whenever possible, choose an alternative dispute resolution process, such as mediation or a collaborative process. You’ll save a lot of time, money and stress if you can avoid a contentious route and receive the guidance of trained experts such as psychologists and counsellors.
- Manage your expectations. A divorce can be difficult, and any built-up tension and resentment can make it hard for each side to agree to anything. In general, though, any money or energy that is channelled towards fuelling more acrimony could be put to far better use.
- Bear in mind that children are always the first collateral casualty of a divorce. Although a divorce can be emotionally devastating, parents must not allow their parental bonds with their children to deteriorate.
- Never go into a divorce with a closed mind. Remember, there is life after a divorce, even in the case of long marriages; indeed, it can be a time to thrive. Divorced couples can still be friends, or at least maintain a cordial level of decency and maturity for the sake of the children.
- Parental responsibility continues after a divorce. Couples should put their past behind them and look to the future, and be there to safeguard the changing emotional and financial needs of their children.
This article first appeared in the January 2017 edition of Expat Living. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue!
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