Your last word when you die

2018-09-13 06:00

DEATH is an unpleasant topic that people would rather avoid. However, by planning for your death, you are giving life to the well-being of your family and dependents when you are no longer around.

It can be seen as a final act of love and is not just for people with vast estates.

South Africa’s National Wills Week 2018 takes place between September 17-21 to emphasise the importance of drafting a will.

Importance of a will

A will can take a lot of pressure off a bereaved family during the difficult time of a death. It removes the uncertainty and chaos by providing certainty about how your assets should be distributed.

However, a will cannot be a mechanism to rule from the grave.

Floris Slabbert, Director at Ecsponent Financial Services says that a will allows you some control over your assets after death instead of leaving the decision to the state.

“A will can name an executor, distribute property, designate guardians and provisions for your children, stipulate how to settle debts and have a clearly defined plan to minimise the tax burden, among more.

Dying without a will

Dying without a will, or without a valid will, means your estate will be administered in terms of the Intestate Succession Act.

The most obvious, most unsettling, aspect dying without a valid will is that you forfeit the freedom of deciding what should happen to your estate, which will then be allocated in terms of pre-determined legislated guidelines.

This is also a risk when people fail to update their beneficiaries following important life events, like a death or birth in the family or a divorce.

“If you are married and pass away, your assets will be awarded to your spouse in terms of the Act. If you have children, your estate will be divided and shared between your spouse and children.

The state, however, decides on this split,” says Slabbert.

Without a will, it may also take a much longer time for an executor to be appointed by the state.

An executor is responsible for making sure that all your debts have been settled and all remaining assets are distributed according to your wishes.

What is a will?

A will is a signed and witnessed legal document that specifies how your estate is distributed, names an executor and appoints guardians for your children.

To be considered valid and legal, it needs to meet certain minimum requirements. For a will to be considered valid it must:

• be a written document

• contain a clause revoking all your previous wills

• be signed by you, the testator, on each page.

• witnessed by two competent witnesses over the age of 14 who are not beneficiaries in the will.

A Living Will is a separate document from a standard will and does not refer to the distribution of the estate after your death.

Instead a living will stipulates your wishes in the event that you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions.

These include what type of medical care and interventions you want to receive, such as decisions around life support, and how your affairs are to be handled in this time.

After you die

It is important to keep your nominated beneficiaries informed about your wishes and ensure the nominees on all your policies are up to date and where to access copies of your will and other important documents.

Not only will it minimise conflict, but also will ensure speedy pay-outs from life insurance policies.

Funeral costs and living expenses that your family will have before they have access to your investments can add up very fast.

With professional help and advice, the entire process becomes manageable and you can have peace of mind that your loved ones will be looked after in a way befitting your wishes.

(Issued: Ecsponent)


Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.