Get Smart and Plan Ahead

Image by Ekaterina Shakharova on Unsplash.

Death is taboo. It isn’t something most people feel comfortable talking about and is often pushed to the back of the ‘polite topics of conversation’ list at the dinner table along with religion, politics and sex. Strange really, because one of the only things we can really be sure of is that we are going to die.

According to statistics from Gallup and IRN, not many of us make plans about dying. Not in the sense of pining for the Fjords, or asking a good friend to help you pop your clogs (you might need to have grown up with Monty Python to appreciate that), but more in the context of Estate Planning – most of us may be more familiar with this as a Last Will and Testament.

Gallup, for example claim that less than half of adults in the U.S. (around 46%) have a Last Will and Testament. IRN suggest that in Britain this is only 4 in 10 adults, while in Australia around 52% of people have not made any plans as to what happens to their assets when they meet their maker.

At Seven Stones Indonesia, we think Estate Planning is something to seriously consider a long time before you start pushing up the daisies. Thomas Edison is credited with saying something pertinent to this; “Good fortune,” he said, “is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.” In other words, success only happens when preparedness and opportunity meet. So be prepared!

Why Is Estate Planning Important?

A Last Will and Testament is a legal instrument, which allows a person to choose who benefits from their estate after their death. In this regard it’s an expression of the wishes of the owner of the Will. This person is known as the “Testator” in legalese.

It’s basically a set of legally enforceable instructions, which enables the government to approve the distribution of a person’s assets; things like a house, money, cars, shares in  a business, choosing beneficiaries of your estate, naming guardians for any dependants and having a financial plan for their support, leaving assets to a charity, and requesting preferences for funeral arrangements, for example. It also allows for debts to be paid. Think of it a bit like a cleaning of the slate.

It sounds obvious, because it is, but once a person dies they’re no longer able to take care of, or handle, assets or undertake transactions. It’s worth noting that when a person dies without a valid Last Will and Testament it’s the State that assumes control of their assets and, through the courts, distributes them according to a legal formula. Such a distribution is less likely to be in line with the wishes of the deceased. In these cases people, agencies and institutions, who may not have been front of mind of the Testator, are likely to benefit rather than the nearest and dearest of the deceased. This can result in confusion and in some cases can lead to family members enduring painful legal battles. But by having a legally, well-written Last Will and Testament you significantly reduce any misunderstandings about how your assets are handled after you have died.

Trained Lawyers Help You Navigate Civil and Common Law

Seven Stones Indonesia has both domestically and internationally trained lawyers who can navigate Indonesian and international civil and common law jurisdictions. Our local lawyers can appear in courts all over the country, either in person or through our extensive network of associate law firms. While our international lawyers can assist with the drafting and execution of a Will in most international jurisdictions. And if we can’t do it for whatever reason, we can identify someone competent who can from our associates. Our expertise in property and commercial activities also gives us an edge in managing the execution of a Will, as much of a person’s estate is usually held in these types of assets.

We have a defined process to identify everything you need to draft and execute a Will in Indonesia. In addition, our expertise in property sales assists property ownership and lease transfers, our commercial expertise assists with the corporate restructures required following the death of a company owner, we can assist in bank and financial transactions, facilitate visa changes, which are often required, and consult with the relevant consulates and embassies.

Depending on the complexity and size of an estate it can take up to six months to settle an estate; longer if claims are made. There’s also a further layer of complexity if assets are held in multiple jurisdictions, like some in Indonesia and some in Australia, for example, because beneficiaries have to be identified and validated, court applications filed, disputes settled, assets liquidated (turned into cash) and debts settled.

All of this is this carried out by someone known as the Executor. This is the person the deceased has instructed to execute the Will and carry out the wishes of the deceased and is considered to be a sacred and honoured position. However, sometimes the job is simply too big or too complex for one person to handle alone and in a timely manner. In these cases, we can assist the Executor to competently and professionally carry out their important tasks.

Cross-Border Compliance And Mixed-Marriages

Generally speaking, a valid Will in one jurisdiction will be respected in another jurisdiction, as death is common to us all. For example, if an Indonesian Will names assets or beneficiaries in another jurisdiction, competent lawyers in that jurisdiction can usually work with the courts to execute the Will and release the assets to the Executor. It has to be said however, that nothing is rarely that easy, and if cross jurisdictional legal procedures are required it can be both costly and time consuming to execute accordingly. 

An Indonesian Will is executed in Indonesia; an Australian Will in Australia and so on for other jurisdictions. If a foreigner holds assets in Indonesia it is imperative they have a valid Will in both their home country and in the Indonesian jurisdiction. Mixed marriages also complicate the process. A marriage valid in one jurisdiction may not be recognised in another jurisdiction. For example, Australians who conduct a marriage ceremony in Indonesia are not considered married under Australian law. Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall are a famous example of this. In Indonesia, Sharia law also applies to marriages which involve an Islamic party. In Bali, Hindu law will intersect with the execution of a Will. This can become a complicated process but at Seven Stones Indonesia we have Hindu, Muslim and Christian lawyers who can help make it less so.

Because most of us don’t get to choose when and where we die, it’s important to

prepare a schedule of assets to attach to the Will, together with the identity and current contact details of the Executor, family members and details of police, ambulance, doctors, hospitals and funeral directors and any other relevant details.

A Last Will and Testament is one of the most important documents you can have when you’re alive, and leave your family when you’re not. After a lifetime of working and collecting assets it doesn’t make sense to just leave it up to a nameless government official to distribute your estate. A Last Will and Testament helps your family at a time of grief when they may not be able to undertake legal and commercial action and in our opinion is an absolute must have for any sensible foreigner in Indonesia.

If you’d like more information on how Seven Stones Indonesia can help you with your Estate Planning and walk you through drafting your Last Will and Testament, feel free to get in touch with us via You might just be giving your family and friends the gift of a lifetime.

First published on Indonesia Expat.

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Andrzej Barski

Director of Seven Stones Indonesia

Andrzej is Co-owner/ Founder and Director of Seven Stones Indonesia. He was born in the UK to Polish parents and has been living in Indonesia for more than 33-years. He is a skilled writer, trainer and marketer with a deep understanding of Indonesia and its many cultures after spending many years travelling across the archipelago from North Sumatra to Irian Jaya.

His experience covers Marketing, Branding, Advertising, Publishing, Real Estate and Training for 5-Star Hotels and Resorts in Bali and Jakarta, which has given him a passion for the customer experience. He’s a published author and a regular contributor to local and regional publications. His interests include conservation, eco-conscious initiatives, spirituality and motorcycles. Andrzej speaks English and Indonesian.

Terje H. Nilsen

Director of Seven Stones Indonesia

Terje is from Norway and has been living in Indonesia for over 20-years. He first came to Indonesia as a child and after earning his degree in Business Administration from the University of Agder in Norway, he moved to Indonesia in 1993, where he has worked in leading positions in education and the fitness/ wellness industries all over Indonesia including Jakarta, Banjarmasin, Medan and Bali.

He was Co-owner and CEO of the Paradise Property Group for 10-years and led the company to great success. He is now Co-owner/ Founder and Director of Seven Stones Indonesia offering market entry services for foreign investors, legal advice, sourcing of investments and in particular real estate investments. He has a soft spot for eco-friendly and socially sustainable projects and investments, while his personal business strengths are in property law, tourism trends, macroeconomics, Indonesian government and regulations. His personal interests are in sport, adventure, history and spiritual experiences.

Terje’s leadership, drive and knowledge are recognised across many industries and his unrivalled network of high level contacts in government and business spans the globe. He believes you do good and do well but always in that order. Terje speaks English, Indonesian and Norwegian.

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Ridwan Jasin Zachrie

CFO of Seven Stones Indonesia, Jakarta

Ridwan is one of Indonesia’s top executives with a long and illustrious career in the financial world. He holds several professional certifications including being a Certified Business Valuer (CBV) issued by the Australian Academy of Finance and Management; Broker-Dealer Representative (WPPE); and The Directorship Certification for Directors and Commissioners, issued by the Indonesian Institute of Commissioners and Directors.

His experience includes being the Managing Director at one of the top investment banking groups in the region, the Recapital Group, the CFO at State-owned enterprises in fishery industry and the CEO at Tanri Abeng & Son Holding. He’s also been an Independent Commissioner in several Financial Service companies and on the Audit and Risk Committee at Bank BTPN Tbk, Berau Coal Energy Tbk, Aetra Air Jakarta as well as working for Citibank, Bank Mandiri and HSBC. His last position was as CFO at PT Citra Putra Mandiri – OSO Group.

Ridwan has won a number of prestigious awards including the Best CFO Awards 2019 (Institute of Certified Management Accountant Australia-Indonesia); Asia Pacific Young Business Leader awarded by Asia 21 Network New York USA (Tokyo 2008); UK Alumni Business Awards 2008 awarded by the British Council; and The Most Inspiring Human Resources Practitioners’ version of Human Capital Magazine 2010.

He’s a member of the Board of Trustees of the Alumni Association of the Faculty of Law, Trisakti University, Co-Founder of the Paramadina Public Policy Institute and actively writes books, publications and articles in the mass media. He co-authored “Korupsi Mengorupsi Indonesia” in 2009, which helps those with an interest in understanding governance in Indonesia and the critical issue of corruption. Ridwan speaks Indonesian and English.

Per Fredrik Ecker

Managing Director of Seven Stones Indonesia, Jakarta

Per is the Managing Director of the Seven Stones Indonesia (SSI) Jakarta office and has more than 25-years’ experience in Indonesia, China, and Western Europe. He previously worked in senior management positions with Q-Free ASA, Siemens AG, and other companies in the telecom sector. Over the last six years, he has been the Chairman of the Indonesia-Norway Business Council (INBC) and recently become elected to be on the board of EuroCham Indonesia.

His most recent experience is within Intelligent Transport Solutions (ITS), Telecom, and other sectors within the Indonesian market. He is today through his position in SSI and by representing Norway Connect, promoting Nordic and European companies that would like to explore business opportunities in the Indonesian market. He’s also playing an active role to help create the Nordic House concept in Jakarta that will provide an excellent platform for Nordic companies entering Indonesia, where they’ll find a community that can offer support with trusted information and affordable services to enter this market.