Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Why have a Will? Your will is an important document in your estate plan. It gives legally binding directions on who will control your assets, how you want the assets and income managed and gifted guardianship of minor children Even if you have a will, it may not be valid. Unless there is an earlier will that is valid, you may be treated as having no will. An application to Court may ‘fix’ a will sometimes, but is expensive. A will may be invalid if: – it is not signed and witnessed correctly. This often happens with ‘do-it-yourself’ will kits and other wills signed without a lawyer present – you married after signing a will (unless it considers your spouse) – it is proven you signed under duress or in poor mental health If without a will, your assets do not go to the government (a myth). However, a government set formula determines which relatives get what. The result may not be what you want! For example, if the family home is in the name of one parent, who dies without a valid will, the home does not pass fully to the other parent. The surviving parent gets value equal to the first $100,000 and one-third of the balance. The child(ren) get two-thirds of the balance. If the children want the cash, they can force a sale of the family home – a terrible outcome. A will is also needed if: – you want to leave assets to a de facto who might have to fight relatives in court to prove your relationship. – any of your children have financial problems or marital problems. Otherwise your assets may go to their creditors and ex-spouses – your spouse has high financial risk (e.g. personal guarantees, business directorships). Assets held by the low risk spouse should not pass to the high risk spouse. Similarly, if you have high financial risk, persons that may leave you an inheritance (e.g. parents) should instead leave your inheritance to a trust. If you die whilst separated, but not divorced, your spouse could receive more than from a family law division. You should take quick action with a new will and take steps to prevent your half share in property passing to your spouse automatically on your death. What kinds of Wills are there? There are two types of wills: 1. a simple will – assets are gifted to specific people in your will 2. a ‘testamentary trust’ will – all or most assets are not specifically gifted, but go into one or more trusts. Decisions to distribute income and capital are left with your executors. The main advantages of a testamentary trust will are: – assets protected from creditors of your spouse or children – potential protection from your children’s ex-spouses – potential tax savings on flexible income/capital distributions The right will depends on your financial and familial circumstances. Who should you have as Executors? Without a will, you do not choose your executors. The closest family members usually apply for this, but there can be a costly fight in court over who is appointed. This happens often between a second spouse and children of an earlier marriage. Who is right depends on your circumstances. We usually recommend independent persons over children, especially for larger estates. This should prevent children fighting each other and gives them greater protection from ex-spouses. The independent persons should be at least two people you know and trust (e.g. long-time accountant and lawyer). There are many choices to be made with your will. A good estate planning lawyer will explain the benefits and risks to determine which suits you. If you have any questions or require further information please contact Harry Giannakidis on firstname.lastname@example.org
Utgiagvik, Alaska (File photo by Steven Kazlowsk)At 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 8, 2017 in Utqiagvik, an apology from the head of the Presbyterian Church will be offered to the Alaska Native people of the North Slope. The idea is to start a process of healing by acknowledging that the Church, however well intended, was wrong, when it denounced the cultures of Native people, both in Alaska and across the nation. Reverend Joe Reid is the pastor for the Utqiagvik Presbyterian Church. It is the oldest on the North Slope and shares the name of the community formerly known as Barrow. Reverend Reid said a vote by national church leaders in June was unanimous that an apology was needed.Listen now“And I suggested that we ought to invite the Stated Clerk so that we could be the first to have them come up and do this apology to Alaska Natives,” Reid said.The Stated Clerk is the top administrator and spokesperson for the Church.Reverend Curt Karns is the executive for the Presbytery of the Yukon, a region that stretches from Anchorage to the north. Karns gave an apology at AFN last fall. He says the wrong started with a 16th century action called the Doctrine of Discovery, a manifest destiny type document that gave churches the rights to take land from non-Christian people and sell it to other Christians. Along with land exploitation, came the exploitation of the original people who lived there. He says when the churches came to Alaska, they tried to figure out how to minister in an area so big. Enter Sheldon Jackson, the Presbyterian director for missions in the west.“He organized a conference of protestant leaders from across the country and they really did, they just divided it up and said Lutherans will go there and Methodists will go here and Covenant Church over there and they just divided it up,” Karns said.Reverend Karns said they wanted to do good things, but they came with the assumption that being Christian meant becoming more European. And he said, that superiority attitude is at the heart of the apology.“That’s the kind of thing that leads to racist attitudes, it leads to cultural paternalism, that’s the kind of thing that we’re apologizing for and there were specific things that happened in terms of teaching people that their language was, they need to learn English, you can’t speak your language, there was one missionary that went so far to say the language was so heathen you couldn’t put Christian thought into it. That kind of thinking is so un-Christian that we have to apologize for it. We still deal with racism, with cultural paternalism, we’re not done with that today.”During the Presbyterians meeting in June, another historic event took place, in addition to the vote to apology and denounce the concept of the Doctrine of Discovery, the church made the first African American Reverend, the new Stated Clerk Jay Herbert Nelson II is in Utqiagvik to make the apology this evening.“We are apologizing for what we have done, even with some of the good intentions that those who started schools in Alaska had, we were wrong,” Nelson said. “And I think that frees us to some degree but it also frees those who have carried the burdens and who have seen many current day problems particularly with families resulting in some tragic responses to life in this present day.”Lucy Apatiki is from Gambell on St Lawrence Island, she is a former lay pastor and chokes back tears as she talks about the church doctrine that ripped her community apart.“And we came against resistance from our own people within the church and because of that, we researched why that was. The first Christians in our community were told that our drumming and dancing were evil. It was like they were indoctrinated to believe that the drum and dancing were evil.”Apatiki said the apology is a huge step toward healing and coming together to respect the integrity of Native cultures within the church.