Paula Bongers, owner of boutique Fiduciary Company, Proactive Wills and Estates, explains why it is important to ensure you have a will or amend your will during Lockdown
These are very strange times we are living through and we all need to adapt and create new ways of doing things. Very challenging sometimes, we know.
It is likely that many YEI members fall into the high risk category in this crisis. Which is why it is very important to consider either creating a new Will or amending your current Will during Lockdown. If you have not updated your Will in the last two years, or if your circumstances have changed, then we would highly recommend that you consider amending your Will without delay.
During this time, we feel it is safer to arrange a new Will or an update of your current Will electronically. The process we have put into place is working very well.
What does it mean “if your circumstances have changed”?
- Has your marital status changed? Have you married, remarried or divorced? Please note that on a divorce, the law allows you 3 months in which to change your Will. In the 3 month grace period, your ex-spouse is presumed to have died before you and they will not inherit. If you don’t change your Will after the 3 month period and you leave your ex-spouse as a beneficiary, they will inherit if anything happens to you
- Have any of your beneficiaries changed? e. maybe you have acquired more grandchildren, or maybe you have changed your mind about who should inherit. Or some of your beneficiaries may have passed away and need to be removed.
- Your financial situation may have changed and this could influence who your beneficiaries are, particularly if you have left cash bequest/legacies. You may find that there is not enough cash to meet these, or you don’t want to prejudice your main beneficiary by leaving extra cash to other beneficiaries.
- If you are remarrying it is especially important to make sure you understand the differences and consequences of marrying in or out of community of property. If you marry without an Antenuptial Contract you are automatically married in community of property and you then have a joint estate. This can be problematic if you both own your own property. By virtue of the marriage in community, you will then each own a half of the other person’s property. This can make things very complicated if you want your separate children to inherit your property. If you are in any doubt, please don’t hesitate to call us and we can talk you through the consequences and highlight what you should do to make the situation streamlined and easy.
Signing of Wills during Lockdown
The signing of Wills is a challenge. In many cases, your beneficiaries may be living with you and as such, are not able to sign as a witness on your Will. If they do, then this would cancel out any inheritance they receive from you in the Will. The Fiduciary Association of Southern Africa has recommended that you sign your Will in lockdown on your own. If you do not have access to two independent witnesses, then you need to attach a letter explaining that you are in lockdown (we have prepared a standard letter for our clients). Once we are out of lockdown, we will arrange with you to have the Will signed properly with two witnesses.
Signing your Will in lockdown without witnesses could mean that a Court Application needs to be made to have the Will accepted as a legal Will, so it is better, if you are able to, to find two independent witnesses.
If you would like to discuss updating your Will or creating a new Will, please feel free to contact us on 073 217 2644 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. At present we are all working from home. Wishing you strength and good health in navigating this period.
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