Why the Sikh community aren’t making wills

Raj Singh Rainu looks into the top reasons why making a will is such a taboo subject in the Asian community.

Two-thirds of British Sikh households (66%) have pre-tax incomes above £40,000, and over a third (34%) have a household income in excess of £80,000. Taking into account the average size of the British Sikh household, the Sikh contribution to the British economy is a staggering £7.63billion.

In terms of wealth and assets, home ownership is very high amongst British Sikhs with 87% of households owning at least a portion of their home. 30% of British Sikh households own their homes outright and only 9% rent their properties. A mere 1% of British Sikhs claim Housing Benefit. According to the report, British Sikhs are clear net contributors to the British economy and have a strong entrepreneurial drive, with about one in three British Sikh families (34%) owning a business in the UK. (The British Sikh Report 2014).

Sat sri akal (hello), my name is Raj Singh Rainu and I am the founder and owner of Sikh Wills Ltd. See the facts above? Well this is the one of the reasons why I set up Sikh Wills. In the Sikh culture we are very family orientated and look after our elders and work hard for our children. So why don’t we protect our estate and our families by making a Will? David Cameron says “The British Sikh community is one of the most hard-working and successful groups in the UK, contributing so much to our culture, economy and way of life.” We work so hard to accumulate this wealth so why don’t we want to protect what we earn?

From talking to people in my community, here’s my top 5 reasons why people don’t make a Will:

  1. “I don’t own anything so it’s not worth going to the expense of making a Will”
  2. “Everything will go to my son anyway”
  3. “I’ve never thought about making a Will. I don’t think I need one”
  4. “I don’t want to tempt fate so I don’t want to talk about death”
  5. “I’m not going to die yet so why do I need one?!”

What great excuses! Number 5 is my favourite. My answer to that is “So when are you going to die? Making a Will isn’t going to make you die any quicker!”

The Asian community is not one to openly discuss taboo subjects like ‘death’ and finances. We have been to see some clients for estate planning and many of them are reluctant to discuss their financial affairs: “Why do you need to know how much the house is worth?”; “Oh we have savings but that is nothing to do with our Will”. We have even heard parents telling their children “Do you want us to die, is that why you want us to make a Will?!” It’s all about listening and educating. Our most powerful tool to be able to get through to our elderly Asian community is our ability to speak Punjabi/Hindi. That way, we do not need to use interpreters and the family feel comfortable in being able to discuss what their wishes are, without having to feel the pressure of their children or other family members taking charge. We pride ourselves on this and believe this to be our way of giving back to elders.

We are now seeing a change. Young professional couples are buying property and are more money savvy – they understand the practical and financial implications of not preparing a Will. There was a time when we were cash poor but time rich. We are now in a society where we are cash/asset rich but time poor. That is why it’s important to be there to help by providing consultations from the comfort of client’s home at a time that suits them- be it evenings or weekends, nationwide. Work around the client to ensure the right money goes to the right people at the right time.

I absolutely love what I do. I get to meet all sorts of people – weird and wonderful. We are such a colourful nation and I am proud to be British and Sikh. Using the skills and knowledge I have gained and being able to offer these services back to our community whilst having first-hand experience of our culture is definitely something to be proud of.

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