Making sure you have a will takes the worry out of the way for loved ones
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Cape Town - Legal woes should be the last thing a person or family should experience following the death of a loved one.
Legal practitioners are encouraging the public to have their wills drafted, free of charge, by a professional this National Wills Week (September 13-17).
Hosted by the Law Society of South Africa, National Wills Week aims to increase awareness of the importance of having a valid will, with several firms offering to assist in drafting a will.
The Transaction Support Centre (TSC), assisting lower-income clients with property-related issues, said too many South Africans have not drafted formal, legal wills, unaware that this could leave their dependants and families in dire straits should they die.
When a property owner dies without a will, they could leave behind a significant amount of anxiety and costs for their families, and sometimes their children or relatives could lose their home.
TSC conveyancer Lisa Hutsebaut said: “Deceased estates can take months to wind up and incur legal costs many families may not be prepared for. When no will is in place, the time and costs involved could increase significantly, and more worryingly it could mean that the intended heir to the deceased’s estate may not be the one who ultimately inherits it.”
Hutsebaut said anyone over the age of 16 who is of sound mind can have a will drafted.
“As soon as a person has assets – such as property – and/or a child, it becomes important to draft a will.”
Women’s Legal Centre director Sehaam Samaai said a will could be drafted by the individual, but should this not be done correctly, covering all requirements, it could have devastating consequences without the individual present to rectify it.
Samaai said: “Because we don’t have a culture of dealing with our estates, people are reluctant but I think it’s important to ensure that they do their will and allows you to decide who the beneficiaries of your estate will be once you die and you can also appoint the person who will be able to administer it for you and it is less onerous on your beneficiaries.”
Samaai said a beneficiary could not sign as a witness, and that wills should be in written form.