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Wealth planning in times of crises: immediate-, near- and medium-term considerations

Almost 10% of British citizens and 11% of Swiss live abroad. Our world is becoming more and more interconnected. In times of global crises, however, this order is turned upside down. What needs to be considered in the immediate-, near- and medium term? We compiled the most important aspects from a wealth planning perspective.

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Modern travel and technology has enriched global families’ lives for the last few decades. Easy air travel has meant we can live all over the world, yet be only a few hours away from each other. Meanwhile, smartphones and Skype have transformed communicating, making it continual and visual, virtually like being in the same place.

Yet if a global crisis brakes out, all that suddenly changes. Distance becomes real again. Many family members might even be stuck abroad as flights are cancelled and borders are closed. To prepare for unfortunate events like these, we have assembled some immediate, near- and medium-term considerations.

Immediate considerations: weather the storm
In times of global crises, many families take steps to reunite family members from across the globe. In extreme cases, this may even be supported by government actions and air carriers focused on repatriation efforts. Immediate considerations should include the following:

  • Is a valid last will and testament in place?
  • Does it need to be updated to take changed circumstances into account? 
  • Has a so-called ‘living will’ (or advance care directive) been drafted?
  • Do vulnerable family members require additional provision or arrangements for care and supervision? Has a plan been put in place? 
  • How are minor children protected in ongoing custody and/or maintenance disputes?

Consolidating this kind of information in an ‘emergency’ folder is time well invested.

Near-term considerations: avoid unintended consequences
The consequences of being forced to spend a longer than planned period in a particular country reveals technical issues.  

  • Do you exercise management decisions?
  • Does a ‘days-counting’ rule impact your arrival, exit or temporary presence?
  • Are your cash flow projections still realistic?

Medium-term considerations: reflect, evaluate and adjust
Beyond the emergency measures requiring attention in the immediate and near-term, wealth planning arrangements currently in place should be re-evaluated:

  • Has your chosen country of residence fulfilled your expectations regarding health- and social care, the protection of personal liberties, ease of repatriation (…)?
  • Is your personal wealth structuring plan still ‘fit for purpose’? Are simple tweaks required, or is a more drastic overhaul necessary?
  • Holding digital assets may present numerous challenges. Have these been considered?
  • Has a comprehensive wealth overview been drafted? Does it cover your global assets and all asset classes? 

A crisis, whether global or personal, brings families closer together. Communicating transparently and taking steps to implement plans where none exist, or adjust existing plans to account for lessons learned, may help to weather the storm.