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Most people don’t think about drafting a last will and testament until they’ve had the unfortunate experience of losing someone close to them. Often family and friends divide up their loved one’s belongings, which can cause friction in an already emotionally charged situation.

Failing to make proper arrangements for the distribution of assets can slow down the administration of a deceased’s estate. Therefore, the sooner an estate is finalised, the sooner the assets or the income derived from them, can be applied towards the care and support of the family who is left behind. 

When someone passes on without a will in place, the Intestate Succession Act’s predetermined hierarchy of how assets will devolve will be enforced. Problems arise when there are known heirs, but they cannot be found, which is more common than many people might think. Children who are orphaned must go through the arduous process of having a guardian appointed by the High Court.

To prevent undue stress and trauma in such cases, many parents choose to create a trust for their minor children, or children who are differently abled and who aren't able to take care of themselves or their own finances when they are left an inheritance.

By creating a children’s trust, the parents can appoint specific people (trustees) to manage the financial affairs of orphaned children until such time as they are able to do so for themselves (if ever).

In the case where a trust hasn’t been created, the child's financial affairs will be managed and maintained by the Guardian's Fund, which is managed by the Master of the High Court until the child comes of age and the funds can be paid out in full.

When a loved one passes away, deciding who will look after the pets that are left behind is an important decision to factor in. Animal shelters and local SPCAs receive countless animals that are left behind when their owners pass and have nowhere to go, putting unnecessary strain on all parties involved.

If an animal cannot be fostered or rehomed by friends or family, it is euthanized — an unfortunate course of action for any animal lover. These types of arrangements are typically easier to make in advance than in the wake of the death of a loved one.

A basic will should include:

1.    The appointment of an executor,

2.    The appointment of a guardian of any children under the age of 18 years of age,

3.    Directions regarding how one’s assets should be divided,

4.    Donations to specific people can be included, such as leaving one’s car to a friend or family member,

5.    General direction such as bequeathing an estate to one’s spouse or partner can also be included.  

Drawing up a legally binding will needn’t be a costly or time-consuming process. 

Quickwill says that they make it easy to create a will online, knowing the price upfront, while having a team of professionals answer any questions along the way.

PERSONAL FINANCE