If you were to die today without leaving a will, under South African law your estate is distributed according to the laws of intestate succession, which prescribes a structure for dividing up your assets between family.
This means that the assets may be distributed in a way that is different from what you would have chosen as the State applies a one-size-fits-all approach. This could also then involve a lengthy and emotional process to wind up the estate, potentially creating animosity amongst family members.
Appointing an executor
Having a will safeguards and protects your family, whilst ensuring your wishes are adhered to and your estate is administered in an organised and swift manner. Writing a will also allows you to appoint an executor who will take care of the administration of your estate upon your passing. We recommend choosing your own executor, who can then negotiate the legally prescribed fee when the time comes. By appointing the executor, you are eliminating the process where your family need to nominate executors (with motivation) which then needs to be approved by the Master of the High Court before they can proceed with the administration of your estate.
You may find yourself in a situation where you do not have a lot of assets or money, and think that it’s not necessary for you to have a will because your estate is too small. If you have people who are dependent on you for financial help, having a will ensures that the monies that can help them is released much sooner than if you were to die intestate.
What to do
Before getting started on your will, you should do the following, according to Legalwise:
- Make a detailed list of your assets (including properties) and liabilities
- Make a detailed list of your heirs
- Decide on distribution of your assets and
- Nominate an executor
Doing so lessens the administrative burden for those remaining while grieving your death and allowing them to get access to funds or assets which could be essential.
Water Financial believes that drafting a will is a critical component of estate planning and is offering free drafting of a will to existing and new clients if you don’t have one or believe yours needs revision (you should consider annual updates). You can complete this online or email us to set up time for a consultant to walk you through the process. Alternatively, if you are more a DIY person, this is an invaluable resource to get it right: https://www.legalwise.co.za/help-yourself/legal-articles/basic-will-template
While this free drafting is for Water Financial clients only, YEI members will be charged a discounted cost of R300 to have their will drawn up.
Above all, remember the KISS principle (keep it simple stupid) which holds that most things work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated – therefore any unnecessary complexity should be avoided.
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