It has been said that you don’t die without a will: You either die with one you have signed or the one the state compiled for you in terms of the Intestate Succession Act!
It is reported that the late soul singer Aretha Franklin, who died recently leaving an estate of some $80 million and four children, one with special needs, left no will. The estate of Tina Turner’s ex husband Ike, who died 11 years ago leaving no will, is still being disputed by his relatives. Prince’s estate is described as being “a mess”. His estate is being shared by his sister and five half siblings – one of whom had not spoken to the artist for over 15 years! These are just some high- profile examples amongst many.
The following are some important guidelines to remember. However, we do strongly recommend that your will is drafted by a professional such as an attorney or by a trust company:
- You need to be 16 years or older and mentally able to appreciate what you are doing, when you draw up your will and when you sign it.
- The witnesses must be 14 years or older and must not be a beneficiary of the will or married to a beneficiary, your executor or a trustee or a guardian. If any of the aforementioned are witnesses, then they cannot benefit from the Will.
- The will must be signed in the presence of both witnesses who must sign together at the same time in your presence.
- The will must be signed on each page and at the end of the will, leaving no gap between the last provision and the signatures.
- The will must be dated and in the event of their being previous wills, the latter dated will be the valid one.
- The will document must be held in a safe but easily accessible place as it will be needed immediately upon death.
- The will is a dynamic document which will need to be reviewed periodically, especially upon changed circumstances.
- Finally ensure your will does not clash with the terms of your marriage contract or, if applicable, your divorce agreement.
The above has been adapted from recent articles by Liesel Williams of Norton Rose Fulbright and Georgina Crouth a journalist specialising in consumer matters. Both featured in recent editions of Personal Finance.
- 11 Oct, 2018