A Reminder about Wills

Normally at this time of the year we are reminded about the importance of having  a valid Will.  Indeed, those who do not have a Will should really think about having one and those who have a Will this should serve as a reminder that perhaps this is an opportune moment to review its provisions to ensure they are still relevant, especially if circumstances have changed.

It is important to remember the old maxim: “You either die with a Will you have signed or one the state has compiled for you in terms of the Intestate Succession Act.”! There have been many stories over the years of high- profile people dying without a valid Will and the problems that alone has caused for their families.

For a Will to be valid, the following needs to be in place:

  • The Will must be in writing.
  • The testator/testatrix must be older than 16 years of age and capable of appreciating what he or she is signing (“being of sound mind”).
  • The testator/testatrix and witnesses must sign in the presence of one another and all should sign on each page of the Will.
  • Witnesses must not receive any benefit from the Will and should be over 14 years of age.

The appointment of a suitably qualified and experienced executor is important.  Administering the estate process is complex and time consuming and this should not be left to someone who is not completely conversant with such a process.  Executors are entitled to a fee for their work which is currently 3.5% of the gross value of the estate plus VAT.   However, in the case of potentially larger estates, these fees can be negotiated in advance with significant discounts applying.  Remember that life assurance policies where a beneficiary is nominated do not attract executors’ fees.  The same applies to retirement fund benefits.

Besides having a competently drafted Will, which meets with your wishes as to how your estate is to be dealt with, it is also important to consider the international aspect of estate planning, where South Africans increasingly have assets situated abroad. Questions arise such as: Is it necessary to have a foreign Will as well as a local one and:  if there are two or more Wills, do the provisions compliment each other and not clash?

Another issue we’ve come across in recent times is: Would your next of kin or executor have access to your various bank account passwords – both in South Africa and abroad – seeing as this is an age where most records are kept electronically. Keeping a list of bank accounts and passwords, which is sufficiently secure but readily accessible to a family member or executor is something to think about.

Please contact your Maximus Adviser for more on this important topic.

Are you in need of financial advice?

Enter your details below and we’ll contact you to discuss your needs.