It is said that more than 70% of South Africans pass away without a valid will in place.
This could result in unnecessary problems that could easily have been avoided if you drafted a last will and testament.
If you die without a valid will, your assets will be distributed according to the Intestate Succession Act.
This means that your estate will be divided amongst your surviving spouse, children, parents or siblings according to a set formula and in this way your assets may end up in the hands of people you wouldn’t have preferred.
The winding up of your estate could also take longer, at a much bigger cost.
Living annuities, endowments, tax-free savings accounts and life assurance policies need the appointment of beneficiaries. If you appoint minors the proceeds will be passed onto the legal guardian.
The legal guardian will then take over the assets on behalf of the children. If you leave assets to minor children who do not have a legal guardian, they may end up in the Guardians Fund until the children reach the age of 18, so it is important to nominate a legal guardian.
It’s important to consider this age carefully as inheriting a large sum of money at an earlier age leaves questions on how responsible the child will be with the proceeds. Here’s the tricky part, if you nominate a child as a beneficiary, that could end up with complications if there’s no legal guardian.
Anyone over the age of 18 can draft their own will, but they need to ensure that the document is legally binding. Vital information like the correct date as well as names and signatures need to be clear.
The most important thing to remember is that there must only be one copy of the will, to ensure that there is no confusion about the inheritance beneficiaries and payouts. The signing of the will is very important. Make sure it’s signed by independent witnesses, who see you sign in your presence. Also, the date of the will…so that the executor knows when the last will was completed. If it’s not dated, one does not know if you’ve got other wills.