The importance of having a Will
Drawing up a Will can be a very sensitive and uncomfortable subject but as death is inevitable, it is always better to be prepared. As a legal document expressing your last wishes, a Will may well be the most important document that you will ever sign. And while it is recommended that you use the services of a professional to draft a Will, the reality is that you may choose to do it yourself or elect someone you know to do it for you.
Your assets, your decision
The importance of having a valid, and executable, Will cannot be over-emphasised as this will be your legacy to your family. A badly drafted Will can create unintended consequences if the wording used is unclear or ambiguous on matters which include the executor of your estate, legal guardian to minor children and outlining your wishes on how your estate should be distributed.
Once your Will is signed and witnessed it is important to avoid becoming complacent. Your Will should be reviewed regularly as circumstances change, especially in the case of life events, such as marriage, childbirth, or a divorce.
But what happens if I die without a Will?
If you die without a valid Will, you will have no say as to who will benefit from your estate as your estate will then devolve according to the Intestate Succession Act 81 of 1987. This may result in one or more unintended persons benefitting from your estate and/or leaving those that you would have wished to benefit with less than you would have liked.
Some final top tips
For a Will to be valid, the testator must be over the age of 16 years, the Will must be in writing (typed or handwritten) and each page, including the last page, must be signed by the testator and two competent witnesses who is 14 years of age or older. It is also important to note that any person who signs a Will as a witness, or is a spouse of a witness, will be disqualified from receiving any benefit under that Will.
The death of a family member is in itself a traumatic experience, so save your family the burden of litigation and family disputes. A badly drafted Will, or not having a Will in place, can have dire consequences that could easily have been avoided. Make an appointment with a recognised and accredited fiduciary practitioner to draft or review your Will in order to give you peace of mind, knowing that the wealth you created in your lifetime will be transferred to your beneficiaries with no unintended consequences.
Gerhard Meyer, CFP® and Head of Technical Support at PSG Wealth
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