You might ask, ‘Why is it important to have a valid Will in place?’, but the question should rather be, ‘Why approximately 86% of South Africans do not have valid Wills?’ Some would blame the discomfort of sharing such personal information with those individuals responsible for drafting the Wills; some would state that they do not wish to consider the implications of their death; and some are simply not informed of the consequences of passing away without having a valid Will.
Your Last Will and Testament is the most important document you will ever sign.
Why? Consider the following:
1. Will the disposal of your assets after your death be in accordance with your last wishes?
The freedom to dispose of your assets according to your wishes upon death is a constitutional right of every South African citizen. This right is protected under Section 25 of the Constitution. Should you die without having a valid Will your estate will devolve according to the provisions of the Intestate Succession Act. This usually results in one’s assets not being inherited the way one intended and leaving one’s loved ones in a difficult financial position.
2. Who will become the legal guardian of your minor children if you and your partner pass away?
In the unfortunate event of you and your partner passing away simultaneously, without Wills, your estate will automatically devolve upon your children. If your children are still minors, such portion of your estate due to each of them, will be held by the Guardian’s Fund regulated by the Master of the High Court, until your children reach the age of 18. Your major children will then have to claim their inheritance from the Guardian’s Fund, which can be a lengthy process. With your Will you may appoint a legal guardian whom you can trust to take care of your children’s needs should you pass away unexpectedly.
You can also use your Will to stipulate that a Testamentary Trust be created for the benefit of your children, this prevents their inheritance from being held in the Guardian’s Fund. You may also nominate Trustees to manage your children’s financial affairs in accordance with legislation.
3. Can you protect your loved ones’ inheritance as well as prevent conflict and uncertainty amongst your family members?
A family is an important social unit, worthy of protection and preservation. It is important to provide for the needs of your surviving family members in the unfortunate event that you pass away. Even when your family knows that you had a valid Will in place, but they cannot find a copy of it and/or are not aware of where you had your Will drafted, signed and kept in safe custody, your estate will have to be administered as if you had no Will. This has the potential to cause conflict amongst your family members as well as leaving your dependents in a financially difficult position.
Why do I refer to a ‘valid Will’? If you have a Will drafted, but the necessary legislative requirements in terms of witness signatures, executability of your requests, dates and original wills are not met, your Will may be declared invalid and your estate will have to be administered as if you had no Will.
In South Africa one in every four deceased estates does not have sufficient liquidity to cover all the costs and taxes applicable to the administering of an estate. Contact Opulentia to speak to one of our trusted Financial Advisors and/or Attorney to help you with the necessary estate liquidity calculations to ensure that your affairs are in order, as well as with the drafting of your Last Will and Testament.
By having a proper estate planning review conducted and having a valid Will drafted, as well as placed in safe custody, you are securing the future of your loved ones.
Please speak to your trusted Financial Advisor and make sure that your Will is valid an in place. If you do not have a will, please make an appointment with us through firstname.lastname@example.org.
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