Focus on the future while celebrating the past.
Written by Brunhilde Gerber, Head of Department, School of Financial Planning and Insurance
During the month of September, South Africans celebrate the diversity of their national heritage. This celebration has created a platform for all people to embrace and celebrate what is unique about their culture. (https://www.gov.za/HeritageMonth2021) What better way to celebrate our past, while looking ahead to our future, and our family’s future than to draft a Will.
The one thing we all have in common, irrespective of our heritage, is the fact that at one stage or another we will be faced with the unfortunate event of death.
Our current legislation provides for a person’s estate to be dealt with in terms of the Intestate Succession Act, 1987 (Act No. 81 of 1987), where a person dies without a valid Will. To some this might seem irrelevant. They may deem themselves too young, with too few assets and dependents to have a Will. Some people even assume that their estate will automatically dissolve to their spouse, so they don’t need a Will.
However, it is critical to understand and consider the reality of the consequences of not having a Will. These are just a few of the issues to consider:
Assets could be distributed to an estranged family member.
- The family could be unhappy about the executor that is appointed or how the assets are dealt with.
- Inheritance of minors could end up in the Guardians Fund, causing administrative issues and restraints.
- No guardian being appointed for minor children could result in them being placed in a home.
- Assets might have to be sold for a fair distribution to beneficiaries.
The reality is that nobody, who is over 16, is too young, legally and practically, to have a Will. You don’t need to have a house or a car – if you have a bank account, you have an asset that will require distribution in the event of your death. Your marital status should also not dictate the relevance of a Will. You and your spouse could die at the same time – what will happen to your assets then? If you are single, with no dependents, who would your assets go to?
By creating a Will, you have the opportunity to:
- Bequeath assets according to your wishes and keep them in your family for generations to come.
- Appoint a guardian for minor children in the event that no natural parent is alive.
- Protect assets from future marital regimes of beneficiaries.
- Potentially save on estate duty.
- Release the burden of dealing with the deceased estate process from a relative by nominating an executor, and also potentially save your family on executor’s fees. This could cause more stress on an already distressed family member.
It is crucial for a Will to be properly drafted and signed in the correct manner to be considered as valid. It is therefore best to consult a professional to assist with the drafting of your Will.
Your future is your past and your past is your future. Therefore, celebrate the past, but remember to focus on (and plan for) the future. Celebrate your heritage and get your Will drafted today!
24 Sep 2021