Over 70% of working South Africans don't have a will - here's how to get yours for free

National Wills Week takes place from September 16 to 20, and during this time, many law firms are willing to draw up basic wills for free.

One has to make an appointment ahead of time, though. Click here for a list of attorneys taking part.

The importance of a valid will cannot be underestimated as it forms an integral part of the holistic financial planning process, according to Sizwe Nxedlana, CEO of FNB Wealth and Investments.

Nxedlana says it is concerning that many South Africans believe they will only need a will when they get older. He explains that a will is a legal document wherein you stipulate how your assets are to be dealt with when you pass away.

If someone dies without a valid will, their estate will be administered in terms of the Intestate Succession Act, explains Stella Pickard, founder of online platform Quickwill.

Dying without a valid will could then involve a lengthy and emotional process to wind up the estate, often creating animosity among family members.

She says the Master of the High Court estimates that more than 70% of working South Africans do not have wills.

David Thomson, a senior legal adviser at Sanlam Trust, points out that South African citizens with interests offshore should also inform themselves of estate planning across geographies.

"Offshore assets make wills more complicated. This situation calls for careful estate planning," he says.

Firtsly, you need to ensure your South African will is valid. There are boxes to tick to ensure it is legal.

Next, consider whether you need a separate will for your overseas assets. For assets such as unit trusts and life insurance, you probably don't.

For property, shares in overseas companies (not dual listed) and businesses, it's highly recommended.

First National Bank recently announced that its customers can now draw up their own wills via the FNB Online Banking platform at no cost. Over 52 000 clients already accessing this functionality, according to FNB.


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