At some point in our lives we have heard our parents, grandparents or closest relatives say "I will always be with you. I will never leave you. Even after my death, I will always take care of you" but, if we do a thorough examination that goes beyond the infinite feelings that these words entail, is this really true? Is it true that we are doing everything within our means to care for and protect our children or loved ones when we are gone?

In Panama, most of the successions that reach the municipal and civil courts are intestate, that is, that the deceased has not established his will or made other arrangements. There are also cases where people with the right to inherit the assets of the deceased do not show to court, hence, the legacy is transferred to the Municipality where the deceased maintained his last domicile.

This translates into that that loved one "who we were always going to take care of" will not feel the support that was promised and for which we worked all our lives. When you pass away you will leave behind a problem. Your successors will not even have access to your assets. To achieve a solution, they will have to retain a lawyer, start a process of intestate succession, and everything in between, until they are declared universal heirs. We are talking about a minimum of 6 months plus legal expenses and, in some cases, dealing with claims from third parties that show interest in part of the inheritance that may very well delay the process.

Going back to our initial question, is it true that we are doing everything within our means to care for and protect our children, grandchildren or loved ones in our absence? The answer in most cases is no.

Planning your estate is to draw up a plan or course of action concerning the assets that belong to us, for when we are not around. This can definitely be overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be that way. We must get rid of the uncertainty to prepare for the future.

Where to start:

1. Make a balance sheet of all the assets you own, including real estate, bank accounts, retirement plans, among others.

2. A sincere conversation about what you want for your family. Are there certain people that you want to specifically exclude from your estate? Is there a specific property that you want to transfer to a specific person?

3. Seek legal advice. This will allow you to analyze the different options available to transfer your assets.

You will certainly have questions, but together we can answer them. In CLD LEGAL we will create with you, a plan for the future.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.