Having a valid Will is one of the most important things you can have for yourself and your family. Not only can a Will legally protect your spouse, children, and assets, it also stipulates exactly how you would like matters handled after you have passed on. More than 80% of South Africans do not have a Will setup because they then have to think of their mortality and death. They think to setup a Will is a strenuous process, and in fact it is very simple but very important.
The question to ask yourself is: Do I want to leave a Legacy for my Family or a string of unnecessary worries and decisions because I don’t have a Will?
Top reasons to have a valid Will and testament:
1) You decide how your estate will be distributed.
You can disinherit individuals who would otherwise stand to inherit. Your Will, once set up, has to be updated every time there is a major life change or at least once a year. If you don’t have a Will in place when you pass away, you die ‘intestate’. What then happens is the courts take over and create a ‘Will’ on your behalf, according to the laws of the country, and divide the assets between the spouse and children. While all this is happening, funds for your burial and loved one’s day-to-day expenses can be frozen for months by the court if your bank and brokerage accounts are in your name only. Remember tomorrow is not promised.
2) You decide who takes care of your minor children.
Now here’s another scenario (a parent’s worst nightmare). John and Mary drafted their own Will and made their best friend Executor of their Estates. Not long after the birth of their second child, John, Mary and their best friend were on their way home one Saturday night from a rugby test match when they were tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident. Their two children, aged six months and two years old, were left in the care of no one, as the last time John and Mary had revised their Will was prior to the birth of their children and as such, no guardians had been appointed. Once again tomorrow is not promised.
3) To avoid a lengthy probate process.
Dying without a Will could delay the process significantly. Apart from the time-consuming hassle and inconvenience you are going to put your loved one’s through, dying without a Will could also result in costing the Estate thousands in unnecessary expenses.
4) You decide who will be your estate manager.
By making use of a financial advisor or Trust company, you are ensuring that your Will is backed up by an organisation. Which in turn speeds up the process. So even if your advisor passes away, your Last Will and Testament will be finalised and carried out as per your instructions. A key benefit of having your Will drawn up by a financial advisor is that they will expertly guide you into leaving a neat, practical and enforceable Will, and not a legacy of disaster. Problems will be eliminated if you make use of a financial advisor or reputable Trust company. I always like to start my financial planning with clients by reviewing their Will. It is the cornerstone of making sure that the amount of life cover needed will be sufficient for factors such as inheritance and Estate duties.
A last but very vital point is that once you have gone to all the trouble of drafting a Will with your planner, please complete the process by signing the document and keeping it in a safe place, such as with the Trust company.