Sunday, 29 July 2007

Dedicated to my youngest brother.

The 29th of July will always be a day of mixed emotions for our family. Firstly, it is my birthday. I turned into a ripe age of 37 this year. Secondly, it was the day my brother disappeared during a surfing holiday in Bali last year.

My brother, the youngest of my siblings, loves his surfing and is on his fourth trip to Bali. On the morning of the 30th, we received a phone call telling us the news that he disappeared, the night before, among some very large waves in the southern part of Bali, in an area known as Uluwatu. The break the he was surfing was call "The Impossibles", in between Bingin beach and Padang Padang. The whole experience was extremely traumatic for the family as we flew over to Bali, spent the next few days searching and found his body in a town 3 hours drive from Kuta. The whole family is tremendously upset, and are still working through the grieving process.

We miss him enormously.

After 12 months, we are still sorting out the financial aspects of his estate. Through out the whole process, my wife and I had a long hard look at ourselves in that we have the correct plans in place. Looking back on it, the financial lessons are:

  1. Have a will in place - A will is a must regardless of your financial position. A will is a way of reducing the burden on the family that is handling your estate. Handling the estate is never a easy task, and having a will certainly reduces the pain.
  2. Have comprehensive travel insurance - When we were sorting the logistics of transporting my brother home, the logistics company was concern on our ability to pay the bills. We were able to cover the expenses, but if we weren't, we would have to make the heart breaking decision as to whether to bury him in Bali or not. It is not a decision that I would have like to be part of.
  3. Keep your accounts in good order - As we are sorting his accounts at home, his paper work is in good order and we were able to notify the necessary parties and take appropriate actions, ie: closing his utility accounts or advising his work place etc.
  4. Hire the best lawyer that you can afford - We could have hired a better lawyer to deal with the legal aspects of my brother's passing. Since there were international matters to consider, we should have hired a lawyer that is experience with such matters. Our lawyer was not. He was not very thorough and the whole process were stalled at a couple of stages and was prolonged. One of the things that slipped through was that we didn't realise the Indonesian does not supply the actual death certificate, but only an extract. This caused some problems when getting some superannuation to release my brother's money. The lawyer was not aware of this and advice that we persue it through the Indonesian embassy.
Traveling with insurance is probably one of the the biggest financial lesson that I have learned from this. I would have hated to think that if I am unfortunate enough to pass away during my travels that I would be a further financial burden on my family to bring my body home, or sorting our an overseas funeral.

I dedicate this article to my dearly missed brother.


Louise said...

sorry for my linking error on such a special post and thanks for letting me know. You have written such a thoughful and helpful post on a difficult topic that I just had to share it. regards Louise

Chief Family Officer said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing the painful lessons learned at such a heavy price.