For many of us, the subject of making a Will may be a sensitive one. Despite frequent reminders from relatives, family lawyers and public announcements, as many as 70% of South Africans have not yet drawn up a Will.
For some people, the idea of writing a Will is unpleasant because it confirms an uncomfortable fact: none of us will live forever. While nobody wants to spend their time contemplating their own death, taking the time to write a Will is a way of ensuring that your family will be looked after in the event of your death – a good reason for any of us to write one.
A popular reason given by people who are reluctant to write a Will is that the state will divide their possessions amongst their family anyway. There is some truth in this belief, but the way in which the state divides your assets if you die intestate, may not be to your liking or in accordance with your wishes.
For example, if you are divorced and have remarried you may want to consider writing a Will soon. If you have children from your previous marriage and would like them to receive the bulk of your assets in the case of your death, you may be surprised to learn that without a Will the state will award half of your assets to your current spouse and divide the other half between your children! There is also nothing more unpleasant that seeing families torn apart by fighting over a deceased’s assets which haven’t been allocated through a Will.
If you are convinced that writing a Will is an essential step in managing your wealth, you’ll be pleased to know that it is a simple process. Your bank should help you write one up for free, or you can speak to your financial advisor or lawyer. Even if you don’t have much in the way of assets at the moment, it is wise to at least have a Will for what you do have and just add to it as your wealth grows.