Nov 17

Why is it important to ensure that your last Will is in place?

Warwick invited our Merger Partner in East London, Gerrie Hattingh, to draft this important article providing invaluable advice to clients regarding their Will.

As we have just gone through National Wills week, I thought it pertinent to remind our clients and their family and friends why this important document needs to be in place and drafted correctly.

Most of us know that having a last Will and testament helps those that remain to handle your personal responsibilities and wishes in the ways you would have wanted. Without an up to date Will, or a correctly drafted Will, you run the risk of having your estate being administered in terms of the Intestate Succession Act which could result in your assets not being distributed exactly as you would have intended them to.

Here are some reasons why having a valid Will in place is important:

Save time, money and stress for your loved ones – When you don’t have a Will, the court process — known as intestate administration — can become especially complicated. Without a Will, the Master of the High Court must name an executor to administer your estate. This can be time-consuming, expensive, and even contentious for your loved ones

Determine who will manage your estate
As mentioned above, deciding who will handle your estate is a great reason to have a Will. When drafting your Will, you must decide and nominate an executor, such as Appleton, who is the person who will oversee wrapping up all your
affairs.

Being an executor is an important job. It is advisable to nominate a specialist such as Appleton who is capable and who you trust to carry out these activities. If you don’t choose an executor in your Will, the Master of the High Court will pick one for you — and it may not be the person you would have wanted.

In some instances the nominated executor is a trusted family member who then “outsources” the actual administration of the estate to a professional firm like Appleton to attend to the estate on their behalf.

Decide who gets your assets and propertyMost people know that a Will allows them to decide who will inherit their possessions upon death. In the drafting of the Will, you can decide very specifically who gets what. When your executor administers your estate, they will oversee the distribution of these assets in accordance with your wishes.

Choose who will take care of your minor childrenIf you’re a parent, you can use your Will to nominate a guardian for your minor children. The surviving parent will usually get sole legal custody if one parent dies. But if both parents pass, this is one of the most important reasons to have a Will.

A guardian will be responsible for all your children’s daily needs, including food, housing, health care, education, and clothing. If you don’t nominate a guardian in your Will, or don’t have a Will, a court will have to choose one for you. This could mean that someone you would not have chosen will be raising your kids.

Reduce the potential for family disputes.
If you have complicated family dynamics, this is also an essential reason to have a Will. When you
die without a Will, your family will have to guess and argue over what your final wishes were. And chances are they won’t always agree. This ambiguity can create friction, and even fights, which sometimes lasts many years. Creating a Will can assist in eliminating some of this unnecessary family unhappiness.

It’s easy to make a Will and gain peace of mind.

Many people put off creating or updating their Will because they assume their loved ones will
automatically get an inheritance. But this isn’t always true. Wrapping up an estate can be a long and expensive process for your heirs. Plus, a Will only addresses your current circumstances. You should update it over time as your circumstances, needs and people in your life change.

It is important to realise that there are very specific requirements for a Will to be valid and accepted as such by the Master of the High Court. It is for this reason that we strongly advise all our clients to not draft a “DIY Will” – you need professional advice…

In closing, I encourage our clients and the readers of our Warwick Wealth Matters magazine, their families and friends to use this opportunity to contact their Warwick Wealth Advisor or Appleton Fiduciary Services directly who will nominate one of our staff members to assist if you don’t have an updated Will in place or need yours re-visited.

We have many years of experience in this area and will gladly assist.