About 77% of South Africans die without a proper will in place, causing distress and complicating the situation of the survivors. This worrying statistic came to light during the National Wills Week, held from 11 to 15 September, with a key focus on the importance of having a valid will in place. The awareness campaign encouraged the public to have a will and emphasised the importance thereof. Johan Strydom, spokesperson of FNB Fiduciary, said the findings were based on statistics provided by the Master of the High Court in term of all estates registered nationally. “A will cannot go unnoticed, as it is probably the most important document that you will sign during your lifetime,” said Strydom. “A will provides you with the opportunity to give clear instructions on how your assets and wishes are to be dealt with when you pass away.” A will is a legal and binding document that will benefit you and your family in the long term. “A will forms the cornerstone of your financial plan and is an essential step that ensures the interests of your loved ones are protected and secure. “A will gives you the opportunity to legally appoint heirs of your choice, allows for the nomination of a guardian for minor children, enables you to nominate an executor of your choice and plays an important part in your estate plan. “When a person dies without a will, they forfeit the privilege of deciding what should happen to their estate. The estate then gets allocated in terms of pre-determined legislated guidelines, known as intestate succession. In other words, that person has no say in how the estate should be apportioned.” There is no limit on asset value to have a will. “Many assume that completing a will is a costly activity, but there are institutions which can assist, free of charge. It is important when formulating a will, as there are various legal implications if the estate is not planned, provided for, and executed properly,” he said.