Make your will part of your personal inventory
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By Aneesa Razack
The impact of not having a valid will, will be felt by your family long after you’ve passed away. The importance of a will cannot be emphasised enough, and given the current environment that we are in, updating or drafting your Will should be a priority.
An outdated will could be as bad as having no will at all. A will expresses your wants at a time when your loved ones are in grief and where decision-making can be hampered in the absence of clear direction. Protecting your family is a core management principle and, we need to plan and prepare to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of, and your legacy lives on.
Your Will should be fine-tuned on an ongoing basis to keep up with important milestones in your life, such as the birth of a child, getting married or divorced, purchasing a new home, starting a new business, or investing offshore.
We encourage consumers to start by drafting a simple will based on what you have. The first and most important step is to have a valid Will that documents your current life stage. This can be updated on an ongoing basis and is a good start to help you have peace of mind.
We need to be open with our loved ones from the start. Look at your lifestyle and compile a personal inventory that should include more than just a list of all your assets, liabilities, and bank accounts. Include a comprehensive guide that can be shared with your loved ones.
Your “personal inventory” can include everything from your assets, cars, property and financial holdings to insurances, medical aid details, foreign assets, and your social media presence. Completing this document will also highlight areas you may want to address in your will and keep it relevant to your milestones in your life.
We live in a digital era, and not much thought goes into what happens to our digital assets such as emails, social media accounts, photos stored on the cloud, domain names or virtual currency holdings when we pass on.
Consider how your digital life should be dealt with and include these provisions in your guide to your loved ones. Important to note is always to keep your information protected and ensure that things like user names and passwords remain confidential.
The above-mentioned principle also applies to your business. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Who should I leave my business to?
- Is there someone with the necessary skills to take over?
- Do I need to include my partner/spouse as a beneficiary of my business?
Leaving your business or a share of it to your spouse or life partner may seem like the easy choice. If they have been actively involved in managing the business alongside you, it would make sense to leave our business interests to them. However, if they were not part of the daily business grind, it could cause issues and unnecessary stress. This is an important consideration that should be discussed openly and clearly specified in your will.
While most people address the care of their children in their wills, many fail to plan for their pets. Even if you do not formally include details of re-homing and their future in your Will, this is something that should be discussed with potential caregivers to ensure your wishes are carried out.
Lastly, most of us find it hard to have open conversations with family members about our last wishes, but it is hugely important to do so; particularly, when it comes to the sort of funeral you’d prefer and how you would like your remains dealt with. Our last wishes are important so ensure that your loved ones know how to handle this when you gone.
When the time comes, an updated and valid will – together with a completed personal inventory – will enable the smooth transfer of your assets in accordance with your last wishes. What takes a bit of time and effort now and possibly a few uneasy conversations over dinner will greatly reduce the anxiety and stress placed on your loved ones in the future.
Aneesa Razack is CEO of FNB Fiduciary.
For more on wills and estates, read the September 2021 issue of our information-packed IOL MONEY monthly digital magazine.