Photo: File
Photo: File

Your Will and the reality of procrastination

By Opinion Time of article published Nov 18, 2020

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By Brandon Garbutt

More than 75 percent of South Africans pass away without a valid Will in place, causing devastating consequences for their families and dependants.

To help combat this statistic we’ve spent the last eight years on a mission to educate our nation on the importance of Wills and have put numerous measures in place to make it easy and accessible to have your Will drafted.

What are some of the consequences of passing away without a valid and up-to-date Will?

1. You forfeit the opportunity to decide who inherits what and your Estate is distributed according to South African intestate succession law.

2. Your Partner may be left with nothing if you are not married or your Will is not updated after your previous marriage ended.

3. Your children’s inheritance could pass to the Government Guardian’s Fund or the appointed Guardian, rather than to a Trust that will ensure your wishes for your children are carried out.

4. Family feuds often occur when family members argue over the distribution of your Estate if your final wishes are not clearly documented in a Will.

5. Winding up your Estate can take years – without a Will appointing a professional Executor, the Government is essentially in control of the process.

When you consider the impact on your family, your Estate and your legacy when you pass away without a Will in place, you’d think this would be a top priority – and yet we still see only 1 in 4 South Africans passing away with a valid Will in place.

In a recent survey we asked people why they haven’t gotten their Wills in order. The results were astounding:

  • 43 percent of respondents said: “I just haven’t got around to it.”
  • 27 percent said: “I’m not sure where to get my Will done.”
  • 21 percent said: “I think it might be expensive to get a Will.”
  • Only 9 percent of respondents said they think they don’t need a Will.
  • 43 percent of respondents said: “I just haven’t got around to it.”

Thanks to decades of marketing from the financial services industry, the average South African consumer is well versed in funeral plans, life insurance, household insurance, medical aid and car insurance. Even pet insurance is seen as a priority at the moment. But ask a consumer if they have their Will in place and the standard answer is: “No, I just haven’t got around to it yet.”

The problem is that life can be unexpected, and far too often we deal with families with good financial plans in place but no Will to hold it together after one of the parents has passed away.

Imagine your child’s inheritance passing to the Government Guardian’s Fund rather than to a Trust that can be managed for their benefit. Imagine handing over your right to decide who inherits what from your Estate to the Government. Imagine your family fighting over what they thought you wanted to have happen when you pass away one day, simply because it was never documented. Imagine your family having to spend the next 2 to 5 years dealing with Government-appointed executors and state departments as they struggle to wind up your Estate. Without a valid Will in place, we see this happening all the time.

Five ways we make it easy for you to get your Will drafted:

1. We have more than 100 consultants around the country who can meet you at a time and place convenient for you. At home. At the office. At a coffee shop. During the week or over the weekend.

2. No charge for drafting your Will. That’s correct. We don’t charge you for the consultation or the drafting of your Will.

3. No charge for collecting your signed Will. Our courier service makes sure that your signed Will is safely collected and delivered to us – and we pick up the tab!

4. No charge for keeping your Will in safe custody. We will keep your Will in a secure vault, ensure it is barcoded and easily retrievable – at no cost to you.

5. No charge for making amendments to your Will. We encourage our clients to review their Wills every few years and especially after major life events. We don’t charge you anything to make these changes ensuring your Will remains up to date.

After nearly a decade of dealing with hundreds of deceased Estates, grieving families, and the crushing financial burden of an Estate in limbo, there’s one message we’d like to drive home – Don’t procrastinate. Get your Will sorted today!

Brandon Garbutt is the Managing Director of Capital Legacy

PERSONAL FINANCE

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