Very seldom do we like to think about the idea of dying, but it is inevitable and the sooner we plan, the better for those who survive us. For young people, drawing up a will isn’t at the top of your to-do list, however it is worth looking at if you own any assets or have polocies that pay out in the event of your death. You don’t want to leave a mess behind so it’s best you get things in order now – while you still can. We’ve compiled a list of 5 basic but very important things you need to consider when drawing up a will. This list is by no means exhaustive and we do recommend that you do a lot of research and ask questions before you draw up any documents.
- Who will draw up your will? It’s always best to seek professional help here because you want someone who will be able to highlight your blind spots. Yes, getting professional help will cost you, but it’ll save your family a great headache from complications that may arise because of your will was not thought through or simply impossible to see through. Whatever the case may be, invest in the services of a professional to avoid chaos.
- Have you appointed an executor? An executor is one or more person who will be responsible for the administration of your estate after your death. It is therefore important that they KNOW that they are the executor and are aware of your plans. It’s a good idea to appoint a personal executor (spouse, family member etc) and a professional agent. Of course, this means you have to know how you plan on compensating the professional executor and factor this into your estate planning.
- Does your will correlate with other policy documents? If you have an RA fund or policies that pay out to elected beneficiaries upon death, it is important to ensure that they say the same thing. Beneficiaries in documents held by insurance institutions etc, override your will. Update your will as and when necessary.
- What do you leave and to whom? The objective of a will is to make this clear, but some people always always assume that the people elected will know what to do. Be very specific about what you want, but also bear in mind that your desires may have negative implications. The last thing you want is to be an inconvenience (and cost your family unnecessary legal fees) because one of your wishes is a hindrance.
- Are you aware of Estate Duty and other taxes? It’s always a good idea to draw up a will after discussing financial implications of estate duty and capital gains tax. You also want to ensure that, after any outstanding liabilities are paid, there is enough to go around.
The importance of drawing up a will cannot be stressed enough. If you fail to draw up a will, your estate is distributed according to the law of intestate succession. This means that people you don’t necessarily want to benefit may inherit. This also means you have no control over who the court appoints as an administrator and for the parents, a guardian. Parents have to be very cognizant of drawing up a will, and we’d recommend that single parents who are also sole providers take special care in drawing up a will to ensure their offspring is taken care of accordingly.
Drawing up a will should not be an after thought, it should be an integral part of your financial planning. Be sure to destroy old wills with every update, and keep your will in a safe place. All copies should be labelled as such, and should also be destroyed when you update your will. You can find more information on drawing up a will here.