Ten reasons you should have a Will
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The majority of South Africans die without having a Will in place. This is called dying intestate and it can lead to unnecessary heartache and infighting amongst family members as well as long, tedious court cases. If you own assets of any kind you should have a Will. Tony Hakime, senior manager at Standard Trust Limited provides 10 reasons why.
It will give life to your legacy.
This is the key function of a Will – ensuring your legacy is fulfilled in the way you wished it to be. A Will provides you with the power to decide how and to whom your assets will go after your death.
Your wishes will be clear.
Having a Will in place removes any ambiguity in terms of how you want your estate to be handled in the event of your death. A Will supersedes word of mouth or conversations with family members. It is a clear guide of what you want to happen following your death.
It saves time and money.
If you don’t have a Will your estate devolves in terms of intestacy and is divided in terms of a prescribed formula amongst your spouse, children or next of kin. However, if anyone contests how the assets are divided it could lead to months, or even years, of expensive litigation. The clear instructions set out in your Will will be acted on after your death.
It ensures fairness.
You have the right in terms of your Will to decide who should inherit and in what proportions.
It allows you to provide for a loved one, even after your death.
Creation of a limited Interest such as a usufruct is when you leave an asset to one person but still want someone else to benefit from the asset. For example, if you are farmer and decide you want to leave your farm to your son but still want your wife to be taken care of you can implement usufruct in your Will. Your wife will be able to reside on the farm and even use it as a form of income, managing it or leasing it out, while ensuring that ownership rests with your son.
It’s the best way to protect assets for your minor children.
You can create a testamentary trust in your Will that will allow a trustee to make distributions to your beneficiaries after your death. If you die without a Will and you have minor children their inheritances will be deposited in the Guardian's Fund, overseen by the Master of the High Court, until they attain majority if you did not create a testamentary trust. These funds are then held in a fixed interest account which means the value could be eroded over time by inflation.
You can use your Will to provide for an elderly parent.
It is more and more common for elderly parents to move in with their, adult children. If you die before one of your parents who is dependent on you, you can make provisions in your Will that they are provided for.
It can protect your assets into perpetuity.
A testamentary trust is a flexible instrument to house any assets for your beneficiaries. South Africa has no law against having a trust in perpetuity, which means your trust does not have to be transferred to an individual within a specific time. So, you could, if you so choose, leave assets in a trust to the benefit of future generations or even to a charity.
You get to choose who executes your wishes after your death.
Because you can stipulate who the executor of your estate is in your Will it gives you the opportunity to hand this important responsibility to someone you trust, a professional who you know will carry out your instructions. You also remove this burden from a loved one in mourning.
It will bring you peace of mind.
For some people this is the most important aspect of having a Will. Knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of and that your hard-earned assets and savings will go to the people you want them to, provides peace of mind.
You should consider contacting a professional who can guide you when it comes to estate planning and ensuring you have a valid Will in place.