Estate Planning. Never a fun topic. Because during the process of planning for your inevitable demise you have to think about your inevitable demise. <Queue the creepy organ music>
But I’m a planner. I like knowing that all potential loose-ends are tied off. Not flapping in the wind. Yes, we had a will in the US. But it was drafted before Emilie arrived and while we still had minor children residing with us. So it’s a bit outdated. And as we move our assets to Spain, we need a will drafted and filed in Spain to protect our global assets for our heirs. Our US will won’t cut it. And time is ticking by.
But inheritance law is very different in Spain than in the US. Here, except under extraordinary circumstances, your children automatically inherit all your property upon your death. This includes when your spouse dies. Your children immediately inherit your home. If your husband dies, you have the right to live in it until you die, but they inherit it while you are still in it.
In the US, things are very different. You can disinherit the usual heirs and name your friendly Chihuahua, Mr Pickles, to enjoy the fruits of your life-long labor. That’s right, folks. Your dog could become one rich puppy while your children and grandchildren live in a tent. Or you could give it all to the local garden club. Or a waitress at your favorite restaurant. Maybe the garbage man. Your choice.
But Spain allows expats (people who have immigrated from other countries) to draft their last will and testament based on the laws and customs of their home country. It covers all our worldwide assets but it will still be filed and probated here in Spain. We have our lawyer here drafting it based on American law, as we speak. But don’t worry, Mr Sir, the-cat-who-isn’t-our-cat here in Palas didn’t make the cut. But we will expect him to be be well fed and taken care of by our heirs. And my favorite Valencian hairdresser, Rubin, has missed out, too.
It’s a weird process. Since the lawyer here isn’t used to asking all the questions a US attorney might ask because they don’t have the same options, we have had to ask them of each other. Ours is not completely straightforward with assets in two countries. Do we want to gift money to the charities we supported in the US. Like the Children’s Response Center for Childhood Trauma. Emilie was a big beneficiary of that amazing organization after several stretches in Foster Care, before she came to us. I used to send them a hefty check each year. They do amazing work.
Then there are the living wills and durable powers of attorney. Who makes decisions for you when you can’t make them for yourself? When you are enferma in Spain? Perhaps Marie Carmen? I would trust her. She’d whip all concerned into shape with one pass of her stick. Drs and judges would bow before her. I have watched her care for her husband who is wheelchair bound after a stroke. She is committed and formidable.
But no. We have named a family member as our decision maker and executor. Someone who is quintessentially logical (he will run models to determine the best course of action) but without an itchy plug-finger. If you get my meaning. I don’t want to linger forever. But I would also like a fighting chance of possible recovery if my odds are better than 50/50. On this, Jeff and I are agreed.
I like the idea of starting the new year with things sewn up. Before we get our business up and running we needed our personal business settled. Peace of mind. That’s my goal these days. And as soon as it is signed we will both sleep that much more soundly.
One thought on “Where There’s a Will…”
This is interesting to read. France’s laws in respect to physical property are the same. We don’t expect to purchase since we are just planning for a 2-3 year period there. But then again, as my hubby just said when I read this to him, just 2 years ago we had no idea we would be planning on moving over. So things can change and we may stay forever, no question. I don’t think at this point a US will can be put into place. We have some things to iron out soon as we want to see our assets go where we want them to go – whether it be the French government, our kids, charities we support, or by moving to Spain. Great post.
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