Where there’s a will..
Somehow we let time get away from us and we get bogged down in the details of life without taking care of what may happen in the event of our death.
Unfortunately this may mean that when you pass away, you may not have a will in place in terms of which your assets will be distributed.
What happens if you die without a will?
It is an extremely common misconception that if you pass away, your assets will be forfeited to the State upon your death; and while that is untrue, passing away without a valid Will prevents you from having your assets distributed as you see fit.It is only if no heir is found after a period of 30 years, that an estate is forfeited to the government.
In the event of your death without a Will, your estate (your nett worth) will be distributed in accordance with the Intestate Succession Act 81 of 1987.
In short this means that your closest living relatives (in order of their blood relationship to you) will inherit your nett assets (once your debt has been settled).
Adopted children and children borne out of wedlock or as a result of an extra marital affair will still inherit a portion of the deceased’s estate and our law makes no distinction in regard to these categories of children.
In the event that a minor child (under the age of 18) inherits, their inheritance will be placed in the Guardians Fund, which is administered by the Master of the High Court and will be paid out upon the heir coming of age.
Benefits of a will
The most obvious benefit is ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes
- The Will can provide for investment of monies until any minor beneficiaries are of a certain age (a testamentary trust) and can provide for the nomination of the person who will administer the trust and the releasing of funds prior to maturity for maintenance or educational purposes
- You will appoint an Executor in your Will, who is the person you entrust to deal with your assets after your death and ensure that your wishes are carried out in accordance with the Will
- Estates which are wound up in terms of a valid Will are generally dealt with more expeditiously than where there is no valid Will
- You are able to leave instructions for the disposal of your remains in order to alleviate the burden on your family for the making of such a decision
You may appoint a guardian in respect of your minor children
It is extremely important to keep your Will current to reflect your intentions in the event that you pass away unexpectedly.
As such, we strongly encourage that you make an appointment with your attorney to revisit, update or draft your Will so that you may continue to protect your loved ones after you have passed away.