An alarming number of South Africans do not have a will, despite owning property and other assets which will need to be accounted for and disbursed in the event of their death. If you haven’t drafted a will yet, consider the inconvenience and financial impact this could have on your family if you should die intestate. Months or years of frozen assets and an arduous legal process are just some of the problems your family could face at a time when they will be struggling with your loss.
Before you draft a will, take the following into consideration to ensure that your assets are accounted for and your next of kin are protected:
Consult a Professional
Drafting an effective will is more complicated than many may think. Incorrect wording or a will that doesn’t take your full financial situation into account can result in legal complications, so consulting a legal expert is essential. It is also wise to update your will regularly whenever your financial or life situation changes.
Your will needs to be drafted to account for everything you own and to instruct the executor what is to become of each item in the case of your death. Assets which you own in your personal capacity may be viewed differently than assets which you own through a trust or business, and your will needs to be drafted to ensure that these special assets are disbursed correctly. Shares in a business may be sold to your business partner with a shareholder’s agreement, while trusts may have their own special legal requirements which will form part of your will.
Choosing an Executor
A member of family is usually most people’s first choice of executor. However, in order to be legally recognised your family member may need to appoint an agent which may cost your estate more. When choosing an executor, consider appointing someone you trust who is also able to act as an agent. Many people choose their attorneys for this reason.