Palauans Should Be Aware Of The Benefits of Estate Planning

By Jackson M. Henry —-

One of the differences between animals and humans is that humans are accumulators of assets, both tangible and intangible, during their lifetime. However, humans do not live forever nor can they take all their assets to their graves. The Pharaohs of Egypt tried taking all their treasures to the next world but only left them to tomb raiders and archeologists today. Thus, proper legal frameworks to dispose of one’s assets before or after death is critical if one wishes to avoid uncertainties, conflicts and control the final allocation those assets when one passes on. 

Estate planning is not widely practiced in Palau, although many are now seeing the benefits of it, especially when family feuds and clan disputes often times results when a person of interest and means, passes on unexpectedly.

It is no longer a secret how the lack of estate planning has torn many Palauan families apart or left the spouse and children of the deceased in destitute. All you have to do read the local newspapers or check the court calendar to find out that family disputes resulting from the distribution of the deceased assets has spilled over into our court system. They tie up the court’s time, rack up court costs that many of us tax payers shoulder and drive wedges between families and tear up everyone nerves.


In ancient Palau, communal ownerships of assets and the role of the clan chiefs in administering assets was the way of life. This tradition is still practiced today and the culture of Cheldecheduch is the Palauan way of distributing and disposing of one’s assets after death. However, this culture falls short because if fails to follow the intention of the owner of the assets and fails to allocate the assets equally or equitably amongst the heirs of the deceased. In many instances, they fail to follow the intention of the deceased.

Thus, estate planning is the ultimate solution to the disposal of one’s assets upon his or her death and protects the spouse or children of the individual.

The proper legal instruments employed in estate planning are Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorneys, and designation of beneficiaries, etc. Many Financial Advisors and Attorneys recommend the establishment of Living Wills. The Wills should be updated regularly because the composition of assets and loved ones changes.

In the USA, where the state imposes taxes on inheritance and transference of assets, it is also important to seek consultation from Chartered Financial Planners, Tax Attorneys and Accountants. In Palau, the best estate planners are attorneys, since tax ramifications of inheritance and assets transfers is a non issue.


Rock star Elvis Presley passed on in August 22, 1977 with an estate worth $10 million. Without a Trust, Elvis’ estate went through probate so taxes and legal fees consumed 73% of his estate, leaving only $3 million to his heirs. Actress Marilyn Monroe passed on in 1962 without proper estate planning. Today, her royalties and licenses worth millions are in the hands of someone whom she never met.


To avoid blunders, painful litigations, probates and squabbles among families and to make sure your loved ones control your assets when you are gone, Palauans should consider estate planning today.


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