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There are many times in people’s lives when they know they should make a Will, yet they shrug it off and ignore it. They tell themselves they’re not going to die anytime soon, they think they should make a Will, but a little later, not now.

Years can sometimes go by with them going through the same thought processes, but it does catch up with you – or your loved ones – in the end.

Having a properly drafted Will that can be executed as per your instructions by the Executor is the one long-lasting act that you can take to protect the people that you love.

A last Will and Testament is the document that you use to plan your estate. It communicates your last wishes as they relate to your possessions, dependents and people in your life.

If you die intestate (without a Will) inheritances are passed on along bloodlines and not according to your wishes. If you have no Will the money for your Minor Children will be paid into the Government Guardian’s Fund.

Disadvantages of dying without a Will:

  • You have no control with regards to what belongings goes to whom;
  • Your Minor Children’s money may be paid into the Government’s Guardians’ Fund;
  • You cannot save money on Estate Duties;
  • You cannot select who will manage your Estate and / or the Testamentary Trust;
  • Delays with the appointment of the Executor and delays with the process in general;
  • Your family may be left destitute;
  • A higher risk of litigation.

One of the biggest issues is the delay that may be encountered; your bank accounts and assets would be frozen, leaving your loved ones in financial distress. Think of the consequences of this on your family.

There are those people who believe that they don’t have enough money or possessions to make a formal Will. They think they have so little, why make a fuss with formalities. The truth is, what they should be thinking is why not?

Benefits of having a Will:

  • You get to select the beneficiaries who will inherit from you;
  • You decide what each of the beneficiaries will receive;
  • You can plan contingencies, say you leave something to your children and one of your children dies with you? You can decide in advance how to distribute an inheritance if this happens; i.e. will the deceased child’s share go to your other children or maybe to your grandchildren?
  • You can qualify an inheritance. For example, your inheritance to your daughter may be excluded from a matrimonial claim;
  • You can plan your estate and reduce Estate Duties;
  • You may nominate Guardians for your Minor Children;
  • Your Will gives you the control and assurance that the people you love the most will be taken care of when you are no longer there;
  • It will enable you to make provision for a Trust to be set up for the protection of the inheritance for your Minor Children;
  • It is less likely to lead to litigation.

Your Will and Divorce

A bequest to your divorced Spouse in your Will, which was made prior to your divorce, does not necessarily fall away after divorce.

The Wills Act stipulates that, except where you expressly provide otherwise, a bequest to your divorced Spouse will be deemed revoked if you die within three months of the divorce.

This provision is to allow a divorced person a period of three months to amend his/her will after the trauma of a divorce. If however you fail to amend your Will within three months after your divorce, the deemed revocation rule falls away, and your divorced Spouse will benefit as indicated in the Will.

What Fee Is The Executor Entitled to Receive?

The Executor is entitled to the following fee:

  • on the gross value of assets in an estate: 3,5%;
  • on income accrued and collected after death of the deceased: 6%
  • This would be the case under usual circumstances, however, the Executor is
  • entitled to no less than R350 after the division of the deceased’s estate.
  • The Executor is also entitled to charge VAT on this fee, if he is registered as such,

or if the Agent appointed to assist in administering of the estate is registered as such.

Why Appoint An Attorney As Your Executor?

  • If you pass away and you have nominated a family member as the Executor, this is likely to add to their stress in this period of mourning. Most family members are not trained to be Executors and have no idea how to proceed once they have been appointed.
  • Attorneys are professionally trained, and are bound by legal ethics and professional standards – this differs from banks and other financial organisations.
  • If your estate is complex and you have various assets and businesses, or an ex-Spouse, or a disabled dependent who requires maintenance, your Attorney will be able to assist you with your estate planning and the drafting of a valid Will to ensure a smooth transition and to prevent your businesses from being adversely affected by your demise.
  • If you have offshore assets, your overseas estate also needs to be administered. This must happen in terms of the foreign country’s laws. (You may then probably need two Wills);
  • You will enjoy the benefits of specialised experience and knowledge.

Act now, get your Will drafted. Do not delay. Tomorrow may be too late.

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