THE IMPORTANCE OF WRITING A WILL
IF YOU DIE WITHOUT HAVING A VALID WILL IN PLACE, YOU ARE DEEMED TO HAVE DIED INTESTATE. THIS MEANS THAT YOUR HARD EARNED ASSETS WILL BE DIVIDED UP ACCORDING TO STATUTE RATHER THAN TO YOUR WISHES. YOUR ESTATE MAY WELL END UP BEING DISTRIBUTED TO PEOPLE YOU NEVER INTENDED WOULD INHERIT FROM YOU, LEAVING YOUR DESERVING LOVED ONES WITHOUT A DIME.
IF YOU DIE WITHOUT A WILL (UNDER THE RULES OF INTESTACY):
· Partners to whom you are not married (or in a civil partnership with) get absolutely nothing even if they were co-habiting with you at the time of your death.
· If you are married (or in a Civil Partnership), the amount going to your spouse/civil partner is restricted with the possibility that even estranged relatives could benefit.
· Part of your estate could go to your parents. Whilst you may wish to provide for elderly parents, the consequence could be an additional charge to Inheritance Tax on the subsequent death of your parents.
· If you die and have no relatives then your WHOLE estate would go to the government rather than dear friends or charitable causes whom you may want to benefit.
· It is also possible to unwittingly die intestate. This will happen if you have made a Will but it is declared invalid. This often happens where people have purchased a “Do It Yourself” Will at a stationery shop or downloaded one from the Internet rather than taken professional advice.
WHY IT MAY BE NECESSARY TO UPDATE YOUR WILL FREQUENTLY
· Unless specifically stated otherwise, divorce (or dissolution of a civil partnership) does not automatically revoke a Will.
· A change in your personal or financial circumstance may warrant it, e.g. the birth
of your children, the death of an heir, etc.
EXPEDITE ESTATE ADMINISTRATION
In accordance with South African law if a person dies intestate leaving no Will or the Will is invalid or incomplete in any way then it becomes necessary, by law, to appoint an Administrator to administer the deceased estate and the decision of whom to appoint is left to the relatives or to the Courts. However, if a person dies leaving a Will, they are able to appoint an Executor of their choice to administer the deceased estate and someone who they trust and can rely on to get the job done.
INHERITANCE TAX CAN BE REDUCED / ELIMINATED
Inheritance Tax does not just apply to those that are extremely wealthy, it is a tax that is charged on the value of property (all of a deceased’s property or assets) when someone dies. Inheritance Tax can be reduced or even eliminated with proper estate planning.
THE DEATH OF A LOVED ONE CAN BE VERY OVERWHELMING AND SO I HAVE INCLUDED SOME FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU:
How long does it take to get money from a Will after someone dies?
This can vary according to the complexity of each Estate. An Attorney, preferably someone specialising in deceased estates, will endeavour to make this process as quick and efficient as possible. An average case takes between 3 – 6 months.
What happens if I am owed money by someone who has died?
Personal debts can be repaid from the Estate of the deceased if the loan was put in writing. Dealing with business debts can be complicated and it is best to seek advice from an Attorney on this matter.
What are the legal requirements to ensure that a Will is valid?
· It must be made by a person who is 18 years old or over.
· It must be made voluntarily and without pressure from any other person.
· It must be made by a person who is of sound mind meaning that person is fully aware of the nature of the document and aware of all the assets stipulated and the identity of the people who will inherit these assets.
· It must be signed on each page by the person making the Will in the presence of two witnesses who must also sign the Will (witnesses must not be beneficiaries).
DON’T PUT OFF WRITING OR UPDATING YOUR WILL. DO IT TODAY!
DETERMINE THE DISTRIBUTION OF YOUR ASSETS NOW TO ENSURE THE FULFILLMENT OF YOUR VERY LAST WISHES.