I know, every year I send you a reminder about things you should consider when drafting a Will and I must say, we have seen a significant improvement in our clients’ preparation for drafting and updating their Will, so you will forgive me if I bang my drum one more time before we draw a close on this eventful year.
Please take just 30 minutes, find a copy of your Will and check through a few basics. If in any doubt, please contact your Wealth Specialist, your independent financial advisor, or if you are already an Appleton client please don’t hesitate to contact us on our toll-free number: 0800 50 60 70 , or email us at .
When you die, your estate is divided between your family or the people that you would want to have inherit from you. Your estate consists of your personal property and possessions, as well as any money or other assets you own.
Who your assets are passed on to depends on whether or not you have a valid Will. If you have a valid Will then the items within your estate will be divided according to your wishes. If you die without a Will (known as intestate) then your
assets will be divided amongst your immediate family according to the law of intestate succession.
Creating a valid Will If you’re 16 years or older, you can make a Will stating who you want your assets to go to when
you die. For your Will to be valid it needs to be drawn up correctly, this is a no cost service provided by Appleton.
When compiling a Will, make sure that:
- You’re mentally competent and that you
understand the consequences of creating
- The Will is in writing.
- Two people 14 years or older and who are
competent to give evidence in court witness
the signing of the Will (these witnesses must
not be a beneficiary to your Will or a spouse
- You and your witnesses have signed every
page of the Will in the presence of each other.
In your Will you can:
- Nominate an executor such as Appleton.
- Exempt your executor, who may not be
exempt from furnishing security, from
furnishing security to attend to the
administration of your estate.
- Distribute your assets.
An executor is the person who will make sure that your assets are distributed according to
your wishes, as set out in your Will. The executor also settles your outstanding debts from estate funds. If you don’t nominate an executor, an executor will need to be nominated by your named beneficiaries and make application to the Master of the High Court for appointment.
Divorce and your Will
It’s important to amend your existing Will during divorce proceedings or immediately after a divorce unless it is your intention for your former spouse to inherit. If you don’t change your Will after your divorce, your former spouse will inherit according to your existing Will. The exception is if a person dies within three months of his/her divorce, the Will will be implemented in the same manner as it would have been if the previous spouse had died before him/her.
Make a life file
Keep your Will in a file or folder along with other documents that makes it easier for the people you leave behind.
This should include, inter alia:
- a list of your assets and liabilities;
- contact details of the executor (such as
Appleton) dealing with your Will, and
- a letter of wishes could be included in the
file which explains to your heirs why you
bequeathed certain items to certain people or
how you wish them to use their inheritance.
- Note: this isn’t a binding legal document, but
it explains why you put something in the Will.
Make sure that you store all documents in a safe place.
Dying without a will
If you don’t have a valid Will when you die, your assets will be divided according to the rules set out in the Intestate Succession Act. These provisions are generally fair and ensure your assets are transferred to your spouse and
children, and where applicable, to siblings, parents, and if required, then to the extended family in terms of degrees of relationships.
Some problems may arise if you die without leaving a Will.
These can include:
- Your assets not being left to the person of your
- It can take longer to have an executor
- The executor who’s appointed may be
somebody you may not have preferred.
- There could be extra and unnecessary costs.
- There could be unhappiness and conflict
among members of your family because there
are no clear instructions on how to distribute
Should you require any more information about a Will, please contact your Wealth Specialist, IFA or Appleton directly, or you can visit the Department of Justice . We acknowledge the government of the Western Cape for the useful material provided here.