Did you know that approximately 86% of South Africans haven’t made plans for their death? For some reason setting up our last will and testament makes us think about our own mortality, and so we tend to put it off.
If you don’t have a Will in place when you pass away, you die ‘intestate’. What then happens is the courts take over and create a ‘Will’ on your behalf, according to the laws of the country, and divide the assets between the spouse and children. While all this is happening, funds for your burial and loved one’s day-to-day expenses can be frozen for months by the court if your bank and brokerage accounts are in your name only. Apart from the time-consuming hassle and inconvenience you are going to put your loved one’s through, dying without a Will could also result in costing the Estate thousands in unnecessary expenses. And this is in addition to the standard Estate administration costs.
One of the biggest flaws when drafting a Will – people don’t make use of qualified advisors or Trust companies. Your financial advisor is one of the few people that will know when circumstances in your life change – or he should be – and will definitely remind you to update your Will if this was done by him in the first place.
Secondly, the execution of your Will should not depend on one person. By making use of a financial advisor (even if you use a bank, a financial advisor will be appointed to assist you) or Trust company, you are ensuring that your Will is backed up by an organisation.
So even if your advisor passes away, your Last Will and Testament will be finalised and carried out as per your instructions.
A key benefit of having your Will drawn up by a financial advisor is that they will expertly guide you into leaving a neat, practical and enforceable Will, and not a legacy of disaster. ‘Small’ little mistakes, will also be avoided. There are also many other legalities to look out for that can have grave consequences, such as leaving cash to people in your Will. These amounts must be paid out in full first before the remainder can be inherited by your spouse or children.
Problems will be eliminated if you make use of a financial advisor or reputable Trust company. We always like to start our financial planning with clients by reviewing their Will. It is the cornerstone of making sure that the amount of life cover needed will be sufficient for factors such as inheritance and Estate duties.
A last but very vital point is that once you have gone to all the trouble of drafting a Will with your advisor, please complete the process by signing the document and keeping it in a safe place, such as with the Trust company.