ENSURE YOUR LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT IS UP TO DATE THIS WILLS MONTH

by | Sep 1, 2023

Image Source: Kate Getty Canva

As we enter September, and we are feeling the positive effects of the warmer weather creeping in, we at Resolute Wealth Management are delighted to celebrate “Wills Month” this September in South Africa, a significant time when we emphasize the importance of estate planning and ensuring your loved ones are protected. Shockingly, statistics obtained in 2022 from the Master of the High Court of South Africa show that less than 15% of South Africans have a Will when they pass away.

Wills Month is a nationwide initiative to encourage individuals to take charge of their estate planning. It serves as a prompt reminder for everyone, regardless of age or wealth, to reflect on their assets and intentions for the future. A valid Last Will and Testament is essential to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes when you are no longer around, which is especially important when you have persons who are dependent on you and your assets.

Crafting a well-thought-out Will is an act of love and responsibility towards your family and beneficiaries. It provides peace of mind, knowing that your hard-earned assets will be distributed as per your wishes. Additionally, it helps to avoid potential disputes and legal complications, reducing stress during an already challenging time for your loved ones. It also allows you the ability to ensure tax efficiency within your estate in order to maximize the benefit your beneficiaries receive, as opposed to it being eroded by taxes and unnecessary fees. We understand that this can be an extremely sensitive subject, however proactive estate planning is a vital part of financial planning.

As life is ever-changing, so are your circumstances and priorities. It is for this reason that your Will should be a living document, and regularly reviewing your Will is crucial to keeping it up to date with your current circumstances. Have you experienced major life events within your circle of family and friends, such as marriage, divorce, birth, death or adoption? These milestones can significantly affect your estate planning needs.

If a person passes away without a valid Will, their estate will be distributed intestate according to South African Law and their assets will still be distributed amongst their family, but the process is likely to take far longer, and the persons who would inherit part or all of your assets may be very different to who you actually would wish to receive your assets. So besides ensuring that your assets are distributed to the persons you want to receive the assets, why is an up-to-date Will so important?

  • If minor children are to inherit, you can nominate a Testamentary Trust to be formed on your passing, to hold the financial assets to be inherited by the minors, and you can nominate trustees who you know will act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. If there is no provision for a Testamentary Trust, then a minor can still inherit, but their financial assets will then be held by the Government’s Guardian Fund, and they can manage these assets as they feel fit.
  • You can choose your own Executor to wind up your estate, as opposed to having a court appointed Executor doing the job. Although a professional third party is always recommended to act as Executor because they do have the knowledge, manpower and relationships with the different institutions, including government departments, you can nominate a family member or friend, but I do recommend they are appointed as a co-executor along with the professional third party.
  • If there is no natural or legal guardian remaining when you pass away, or they pass away at the same time as you, you can make provision for who you would like to nominate as a guardian to look after your children when you, or no other natural/legal guardian exists. This again avoids the possibility of someone you may not approve of being in charge of your child’s future.

Don’t let this Wills Month pass you by, without ensuring that you finally get your Last Will and Testament drafted, or finally make those long overdue changes to your Will. Speak to your Private Wealth Manager at Resolute Wealth Management and we would be happy to assist you with not only drafting and updating your Will, but also assist you with ensuring that your assets are well structured in order to provide tax efficiency, as well as liquidity when it is needed the most. Together we’ll ensure that your estate planning is comprehensive and tailored to your needs.