We spend most of our time building a financially safe and stable future for ourselves and our loved ones. Whether you are young and recently started a career, or middle-aged and at the top of your career, or maybe you have already paid your dues and now enjoy retired life, everyone has a unique 'estate' - the sum of our life's work.
While we may be happy enough to wake up every day and provide for our loved ones by exercising control over our own estates, a day will come when we are no longer there. What happens to your estate when that day comes? Our advice is to ensure that proper estate planning is conducted and that you have a legal will in place.
Living in South Africa means that you are fortunate enough to have testamentary freedom, meaning that you can dictate how you want to manage and distribute your estate after you die. This is to say if these wishes are set out in a legal document that complies with the formal requirements prescribed by law.
Beware! To write your wishes on a piece of paper or to download and complete a "free will" from the internet does not necessarily mean that you have a valid will in terms of the Wills Act. Should your will be found to be invalid, it is equivalent to not having one at all. Your estate will then be distributed under the Intestate Succession Act and no attention will be paid to any wishes you may have. Legislation then determines who your heirs will be as well as the inheritance they will receive.
Proper and professional estate planning will enable you to regulate and possibly combat financial issues such as cash shortages and estate duty. Have you ever thought of the consequences of your matrimonial regime, possible divorce orders, maintenance orders and life insurance policies? We recommend that you do so as all of these factors are likely to have an impact on your deceased estate.
To have a will allows you to nominate not only a guardian for your minor child / children but also to nominate someone who you trust, to act as a trustee in a testamentary trust established to protect the child's inheritance until he / she reaches a specific age.
Examples of options available when drawing up a will are to create a lifetime usufruct of your assets in favour of your spouse or the establishment of a testamentary trust in cases where the heirs are not considered "financially wise". None of these options will, however, be in force and effect if they are not contained in a legally valid will!
None of us know what tomorrow brings. All we know is that no matter how big or small your estate may be - there comes a day that you are no longer there and it is of the utmost importance that your estate be administered and distributed according to your wishes. Make sure that your will is compiled by a professional who has the necessary knowledge and expertise to ensure that your wishes are properly recorded and eventually executed.
Rauch Gertenbach Attorneys have professional staff standing by to assist you at no cost, with the drafting or revision of your will. Feel free to contact us at 044 601 9900 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Terms and conditions apply