Although it is not an easy topic, it remains one of the most important tasks when it comes to estate planning. Let's have a look at the following scenarios:
Dying without a valid Will in place
Drawing up a Will is about taking control of your estate and taking care of those you leave behind when you pass away. Should you die without a Will, your estate will be distributed in terms of the law of intestate succession. This means that beneficiaries you may never have wished to inherit might benefit, while those that you genuinely care for and would want to benefit might be left with no legal entitlement to your estate or assets.
Getting a legal expert to help you draw up a Will
It is advisable to have a person with the necessary legal knowledge and expertise, such as an attorney draw up your Will. Attorneys have expert knowledge that will ensure that your Will is valid, clear, concise and reflects your true intentions. Besides, you don’t want an unnecessary error rendering your Will invalid. Attorneys also understand tax and other financial implications that go hand in hand with dividing your estate.
You do have the option of drawing up a Will yourself but be warned; South African law has strict rules and procedures when it comes to Wills and places a lot of emphasis on authenticity and validity. The last thing that you want is that your Will is declared invalid by a court.
Do I need a Will if I’m single?
One of the biggest misconceptions amongst singles is that it is not worth having a Will unless they get married and own property worth millions. The truth is, if you earn a salary, have savings in the bank, own a few personal belongings, furniture, possibly a car, you should consider having a Will drawn up. More and more people are involved in serious relationships and live with their partner without getting married for some time, or at all. After years of planning for the future and making financial decisions together, these couples often only realise the importance of a Will when it is too late. With no Will, one often sees the surviving partner left in a disadvantaged position.
It is vital to revise an existing Will when significant events, such as marriage or the birth of children, take place in your life. You would probably want to include your loved ones in your Will, and ensure that they are adequately protected and cared for after you are gone. An outdated Will could have unintended consequences, and result in a spouse or child not benefiting at all. If your Will was, for example, never updated after marriage, and you left all your belongings to a sibling, your sibling would benefit while your wife and children would be disadvantaged.
Having a Will in place for the sake of your children
Again, talking about death, especially with children, is no easy task. And while every family’s situation is unique, death is a common denominator. Children need to understand the purpose of a Will and what the process will be when it comes into effect.