A will is an important document to have in place, and is used to ensure your family is looked after once you have passed on. Alarmingly, only about 10% of South Africans have a will, meaning a large proportion of our population is unprepared in the event of death. We were recently asked to give our insights to an article based on the importance of having a will for Hippo. Below is the advice we have for those looking to invest in this important document.
Why you should draw up a will
Apart from allowing you to dictate who receives your possessions when you pass on, a will ensures that that a formal executor takes charge of all the formalities This relieves the burden that would otherwise be placed on your immediate family members. If you don’t have a will in place, the Master of the High Court typically takes over the affairs of your estate, and you do not get to decide who inherits your possessions or who takes charge of the formalities. This process is fairly complicated and impersonal.
When should you draw up a will
You need not be 18 or 21 before you may draft a will. A will can be drafted anytime from the age of 16, unless you are intellectually unable to do so. We recommend that once a will has been created, it may be necessary to update it after important life events. These events most often include getting married, purchasing a large asset such as a house, having children, or inheriting assets. The will can be updated by preparing a document known as a codicil, which amends the original document if it is a small amendment. Otherwise, another will may need to be drafted for larger amendments.
How is a will drafted?
The best way to go about drafting your will, is to collaborate with an attorney. Unfortunately, many people think it’s easier to draft their own will either by purchasing a blank form or writing it out on a piece of paper. Home-made wills often do not comply with the correct legal processes, and are declared invalid.
Your will also needs to include specific information for your family to know exactly how to deal with your estate. You must name the executor of your state, the people who will inherit your estate and what your wishes for your funeral and burial are. All requirements are stipulated in the Wills Act.
Once your will has been completed, it must be kept in a safe place. The safest option is to keep the original with the expert who helped you draft it. You must receive a copy, with written evidence that the expert has your original.
In order to ensure your estate and family are well taken care of, a valid will should be drawn up with the help of an appropriate professional. This will relieve the burden and stress on your family in the event of your passing.