CAPE TOWN – When you are not there to know where your assets are, your family will not know what to give to your executor. As a result your estate may take longer to wind up.

Head of channel at Metropolitan Retail, Japie Mostert, give the following tips:

  • Make a list of all your assets – for example, your house, investments, life insurance policies, pension funds;
  • Ensure that you include account numbers and institutions which you are investing with;
  • Have a folder with the important documents – including your Will – such as the deed of title to your house, your insurance policy and statements of account;
  • You should update the folder once a year and check that you have all your current information in the folder;
  • You should tell someone you trust where your original Will is located and what to do with it when you pass away.

Mostert says having a will is essential for ensuring that your assets go to the people you want. “Without one, you can’t be sure that your estate will be shared among your family in the proportions that you would like. What’s more, it could possibly help to mitigate conflict among family members because your will gives clear instructions on how you would like to divide your assets.”

Do I have to be rich to draw up a will?

You can never be too rich or too young to start securing your legacy. There is no law that states anyone from any income bracket can and should have a will.

Am I ever too young to draw up a will?

You are only too young if you are under the age of 16. With that said, it is important to have conversations with your children even if they are not of age so that they understand the importance of having a will and so that they know what will happen when you die.

What are the advantages of starting this whole will thing at an early age?

Drawing up a will at an early age gives you peace of mind knowing that your affairs are in order in the event that something happens to you. Plus, your loved ones will know what to do in order to respect your last wishes.

Mostert explains that the middle-aged population seems to take the drawing up of a will more seriously and this could be for reasons, being they fear that they are getting older and are stable and have acquired assets that they would like to leave for their loved ones. 

He says according to the Master of the High Court 30 percent of South Africa’s working population have a will. “We suspect that one of the reasons for this is because people think drawing up a will is a complicated and costly process.

Mostert a lawyer does not have to draw up a will – you can even draft your own will.  But it is important to ensure you understand what to say and what the technicalities are in making a will. It will usually be better to have someone who understands these matters, help you draft your will in the right format. 

You can also draw up a Digital Will. A Digital Will is just a way to get a simple will drafted. Digital wills are very simple and cater for a limited set of circumstances but they can get you started with having a will which is one part of improving your financial wellness. An online will still has to be printed and signed correctly to be a valid will. 

“If the deceased leaves a valid will which does not dispose of all their assets, there is an intestacy as to the portion not disposed of. In the event of intestacy, the assets are distributed in a definite order of preference among the heirs,” he says. 

Legal requirements

Mostert says many issues with Wills arise from a failure to get them signed appropriately. The law prescribes strict rules around the signing of a Will. These rules should be followed carefully so that your Will is valid and also to reduce the chances of arguments about your Will after you have passed on. 

These rules are:

  • You (the testator/testatrix) must sign the Will on the last page in the space provided.
  • You (the testator/testatrix) must sign the Will in the presence of two competent witnesses who must both be present at the same time.
  • Both witnesses must sign the Will on the last page in the space provided.
  • The witnesses must not be beneficiaries under the Will.
  • The witnesses and you (the testator/testatrix) must sign every page.
  • All witnesses must be older than 14 years old.
  • The witnesses should not have helped you draft your Will.
– BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE