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The importance of having a well-structured will

Sep 19 2019 12:19
Source: iStock

Source: iStock

People often neglect to give proper attention to their will because it forces them to face their own mortality. Yet this is one of the most important documents necessary for estate planning.

Having a well-structured will means you are taking care of your responsibilities and ensuring that your assets are distributed in terms of your wishes when you are no longer there, says Tony Hakime, Senior Manager of Sales and Distribution at Standard Trust Ltd.

He advises that Standard Trust Ltd will be waiving their will drafting fee for September and has advice for those planning to take up the offer.

Be practical

A will must be practical to the degree that it can be implemented. People often place restrictions on what a beneficiary is allowed to do with an asset, but in many instances, it can be quite difficult to carry out these instructions.

Getting it right

Hakime emphasises the importance of obtaining the services of a professional person who specialises in the drafting of wills.

The wording is critical and getting it wrong can lead to hardship and even financial distress for the people left behind. Once you are dead, there is no opportunity to correct or amend something that is not clear.

“It is important that the person winding up the estate has kept abreast with changes in the relevant legislation and understands the tax implications,” says Hakime.

He points out that people with assets outside of South Africa might have a will in the country where those assets are located. “It just makes it easier for someone on that side – a person well-versed in estate matters in that jurisdiction – to quickly attend to the administration of the estate.”

Keeping it safe

Many people choose to nominate the institution that drafted the will as executor of the estate, and to keep the original document. If this is done, it is important that they inform their family where the document is.

If a person dies without a will, the estate will be administered in terms of the Intestate Succession Act – and the assets will be distributed in a manner that was not of their choosing, says Hakime.

A valid will has to be signed by the testator as well as two witnesses, and they must sign in each other’s presence. Witnesses must be at least 14 years old and may not be a beneficiary of the will.

Review often

In South Africa there is freedom of testation and people are allowed to change their wills as often as they please. It is good practice to review a will at least once a year, but there are also some ‘life events’ that make a review necessary.

These include acquiring new assets, getting married, having children or getting divorced.

“It only takes a few minutes to run through your will to make sure it still contains the right information but it can make a lifetime of difference to your loved ones,” says Hakime.

This post is sponsored, written and provided by Standard Bank.



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