Get your estate in order

2017-09-07 06:01

HAVE you been recently divorced or widowed?

Have you bought a new home? Have you been co-habitating with your partner for some time? Do you have a number of people that depend on you financially every month? If so, it is advisable to have a legally sound will to ensure that there are not competing claims on your estate when you pass away.

As has become the tradition over the past few years, members of the public will be able to have a basic will drafted by an attorney free of charge during National Wills Week from September 11 to 15. Attorneys’ firms throughout the country are participating in the National Wills Week project.

“By ensuring that you have a valid will, you as the testator, can protect the interests of your loved ones and ensure that there is no delay in settling your estate after your death. It also ensures that your executor will act according to your wishes as set out in your will. A valid will allows you to state who should inherit your assets and property, to appoint an executor of your choice for your estate and also a guardian for your minor children,” say Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) Co-Chairpersons, David Bekker and Walid Brown.

During National Wills Week, attorneys participating in the National Wills Week initiative will display posters with their contact details so that members of the public can make appointments with attorneys in their area. In addition, the contact details and addresses of all participating attorneys can be accessed on the LSSA website at www.LSSA.org.za or by contacting the relevant provincial law society.

Why should an attorney draft your will?

A practising attorney has the necessary knowledge and expertise to ensure that your will is valid by complying with all the legal requirements in the Wills Act and also that it complies with your wishes. An attorney can also advise you on any problem which may arise with your will and assist your executor. Often a will is not valid because the person who drafts it does not have the necessary legal knowledge to ensure that all the legal requirements of the Wills Act are met. These include the fact that the will must be in writing, it must be signed by the testator in the presence of at least two competent witnesses, and also signed by the witnesses.

What could happen to your estate if you die without a valid will?

If you die without leaving a valid will, your assets will be distributed according to the provisions of the Intestate Succession Act. These provisions are generally fair and ensure that your possessions are transferred to your spouse and children, and where applicable, to siblings, parents, and if required, then to the extended family in terms of degrees of relationships.

But, more problems may arise if you die without leaving a will. Where to find an attorney participating in the National Wills Week project: www.LSSA.org.za.

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