Over the ages, people from every country on earth have wondered what happens when life ends. No matter what your beliefs, one thing is certain: as unfortunate as the death of a loved one is, if estate planning has taken place the burden on those left behind will certainly be minimised.
Death is a very sombre topic, and perhaps for this reason many families prefer never to discuss what will happen in the event that the breadwinner passes away. While this response is understandable, it may lead to unnecessary complications as family members and dependents wait for months or even years for their deceased relative’s estate to be wound up. The financial consequences can be dire, and can easily be avoided by a little planning. Remembering that death does not only affect the elderly, it is wise to plan your estate right away if you have not already done so.
In making provision for your family in the event of your passing, the following steps will reduce the time and effort involved:
1. Ensure that your Will is in order
If you have not already drafted a Will, now is the best time. Consult your financial advisor, who will provide you with the information you need and can also assist in the process.
If you already have a Will, update it regularly to reflect new assets and possessions you may have obtained and delete those which you have sold. It is also a good idea to check for beneficiaries who may no longer be applicable, especially if you have divorced or a beneficiary mentioned in your Will has passed away.
If you have minor children, ensure that you have appointed a legal guardian for each of them in the event of your death.
If you own offshore assets, remember that your South African Will may not be sufficient to ensure their inheritance to your beneficiaries. A Will should be drafted in the country where the asset is held.
2. Update your records
For every asset and possession mentioned in your Will, ensure that you have documentary records listing details of each asset and proving your ownership. Your financial advisor will assist you in compiling the necessary documentation.