There is a dangerous trend which has continued to wreck havoc in the lives of families who have lost their father and breadwinner. No man wants to struggle to provide for his family only to have the same family suffer after his death. The issue of non disclosure and non inclusion of spouses in our businesses have continued to be a serious problem for families after the death of a husband and father. Some of us through sheer negligence, ignorance or purposely, have hidden assets and investments from our spouses. The result is that a man struggles to provide for his family, builds and saves for them, only to die and leave the assets for others who may not even be related to him to enjoy, impoverishing the same family he worked so hard to provide for. In 2 Kings 20:1 God stresses the need for a man to put his house in order before he dies. He sends his prophet Isiah to inform Hezekiah who was gravely ill to put his house in order because he will surely die. Hezekiah cried unto God to give him more time to put his house in order, again God emphasises the importance of putting once house in order before death by giving him an extra 15 years to do so.
It is normal and expected that a man will die before his wife, probably because in most cases he is older. Bearing this in mind, there is nothing wrong with planning a seamless handover to your wife from day one. Do not hide assets from her, inform her of all your business dealings, including assets and liabilities so that she will be informed and ready to step into your shoes when you go. Let her have an idea of what you do and a basic knowledge of how the business works, you don’t want her groping in the dark when she is required to take control. If unfortunately there is serious marital problems, don’t look at her as a beneficiary, rather adopt the mindset that she is only holding brief for your children until they come of age. She does not need to be part of the management now that you are here, it is wise however to equip her with just a peripheral knowledge of how things work. This also applies to women who are in business or employed. Total disclosure of all assets is the right thing to do.
So many reasons have been proffered for this ugly trend, some believe that exposing wealth to a women puts them at risk of treachery and betrayal which may lead to death, others have argued that women are extravagant and total declaration of assets may make the woman greedy thus putting the investment at risk. Despite these arguments, I believe it is totally unwise for a man to keep huge investments without mentioning it to his wife or his children when they come of age. Some of us still have forms we filled when we were single in banks, insurance companies and other areas of investment putting others as our next of kin, this is sheer carelessness because incase of death, your family will be at the mercy of whoever appears on these documents. In most cases it never goes well, your family may be denied their entitlement.
Unfortunately, women are afraid to complain openly for fear of being accused of wishing her husband dead. Many of them get terrified when it is obvious that they have no clue what her husband owns or how his business runs. Some of these women have also been subjugated to the position of mere house wives who have no clue about anything. It is of utmost necessity that you empower her so that she will have the financial and intellectual capacity to stand and defend herself and your children against intruders and property usurpers in the event of your permanent absence. No one knows tomorrow, no one plans to die, but these things happen we are neither aware of the date or time, it is better to plan way ahead, putting all scenarios including death and permanent disability in your plan. The time to act is now.
It is important to write you last will and testament to ensure you have adequately taken care of those who need to be provided for in the unfortunate event of your demise. Writing a will does not mean you are dying or planning to die, it only means that in the event of death, a necessary end, which will come to each and everyone of us at God’s appointed time, you would have ensured that only the people you have chosen have access to your investments. I have seen instances where a very rich man dies, a man who had previously given his children the best of everything; and the kids still end up in penury because he failed to plan beyond his lifetime. It is absolutely important that we make hay while the sun shines – Sir Stanley Ekezie
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