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Covid-19 reminds us that financial structures are more important than ever

Nine lessons Covid-19 has taught (and in some cases, retaught) me…

Covid-19 is creating havoc in the personal and business environment. Trustees, directors, shareholders, executors and many, many more are truly being tested. It’s not all bad, however.

Covid-19 reminds us that that life is a journey and that ensuring your ship is heading in the right direction is key to weathering the storm. Has your ship been on autopilot drifting aimlessly in turbulent waters? Or are you taking responsibility as the captain to steer a clear path through the obstacles? What’s more, have you catered for the possibility that you may still strike an obstacle by keeping your lifeboat in working order?

Leaving the naval metaphors behind, here are a few of the things Covid-19 has taught (and in some cases, retaught) me…

Lesson 1: A contract is not just a contract

Read every word of the fine-print or, better still, pay a professional to read it. You won’t regret the extra time or expense. Not receiving insurance payouts for “loss of profits” due to one ambiguously worded clause, would be a bitter pill to swallow.

Lesson 2: Giants can also fall

Even the best-made plans can go awry. And, as the Titanic proved, no ship is too big to fail. If your life insurer encounters financial difficulties, they might use your assets to pay their debts! It’s essential to factor this kind of worst-case scenario into your planning. And to manage the risk accordingly.

Lesson 3: What happens if the ship sinks?

No one likes to fixate on the possibility of things going wrong, but it is very important to be prepared for worst. How robust are your global and domestic structures? Are they watertight or is there a leak somewhere? We know creditors will always chase the money!

Lesson 4: Trusts are valuable

If used correctly as part of a holistic estate plan, a trust is the ultimate credit protection vehicle.

Lesson 5: Pay for professional, independent services

Many of the big banks and wealth businesses will try to lock you into their brand by offering a whole suite of services at discounted (or even free) rates. You think you’re getting a great deal, but in reality, it might be one of the most costly decisions you’ll ever make as you’re effectively signing away your freedom of choice. Independent trustees and executors do not receive commissions and are free to look for the best deals for their clients.

Lesson 6: Never have blind faith

Have all your ‘I’s’ been dotted and ‘T’s’ been crossed by the correct professional? You don’t know what you don’t know, and Google is not a back-up plan. Pay a professional to make sure your financial house is in order.

Lesson 7: Now’s time to be the captain

Knowledge is power. Getting through Covid-19 (or any other challenge, for that matter) is all about understanding your risk and doing what you can to mitigate this risk.

Lesson 9: Death is real

None of us will live forever, so make sure you factor this into your plans. Make sure you have at least one last will and testament – if you have offshore assets you may well need more than one.

Regardless of whether you’re currently sailing in calm or choppy waters, we highly recommend that you review your personal and business structures urgently. The highly-qualified and extremely experienced team at Sentinel International has an expert to deal with every kind of conundrum.

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Madeleine Schubert

Sentinel International

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