Why should I have a Will?
The purpose of a Will is to appoint an executor/executrix and to name the beneficiaries of your estate, as well as the opportunity to appoint a guardian of your choice to take care of your children.
Many people die without leaving a Will. There are many reasons why, but some believe that their family are responsible enough to share, that their property is not valuable enough, or that they are too young to be thinking about death, therefor a Will is not needed.
When a person passed away without a Will, their estate is distributed in terms of the law of Inestate Succession, which means that the law will dictate how your estate will devolve. The deceased loses the opportunity to appoint an executor / executrix, a trustee and a guardian for his or her children. The process of inestate succession can be quite lengthy and there are certain rules thereof. Passing away without a valid Will could have dire consequences for your loved ones.
The main tasks of the executor or executrix is to identity and list all the assets of the deceased individual, to receive payments that are due to the estate, to give notice to creditors, pay funeral bills, settle outstanding debts and valid claims against the estate, and to identify the beneficiaries and their inheritance as per the instructions set out in the Will.
It is very important to have a person with the necessary knowledge and expertise to draw up your Will. There is various documentation needed to draw up a Will.
- the full names and ID number of the executor / executrix of your estate,
- full names and ID number of your spouse and how you are married,
- copy of your marriage certificate (if you are recently divorced, then you need a copy of the decree of divorce and settlement agreement),
- full names and ID numbers of your children, and the full names and ID numbers of any other persons you would like to include.
Who is competent to make a Will?
- All persons of 16 years and over, unless at the time of making the will he/she is mentally incapable of appreciating the consequence of his/her action.
Who is competent to act as a witness to a Will?
- All persons of 14 years and over and who at the time he/she witnesses a Will are not incompetent to give evidence in a court of law.
- A beneficiary to a will should not sign as a witness, because he/she will then be disqualified from receiving any benefit from that Will. The executor / executrix should also not sign as a witness.
Your Will should always be kept in a safe place. It is advisable to make a copy of your Will, marked clearly with the word “COPY.” Make a note where the original document is kept, and make sure to inform the executor/executrix where the original Will is kept.
Wills do need to be amended from time to time especially if important events have taken place. These included the birth of a child, marriage, divorce, death of a beneficiary, etc. It is advisable to review Your Will on a yearly basis to ensure that all details are correct.
Thinking about death and the loved ones you leave behind is never a pleasant thought, but by making sure that you have a last Will and Testament in place, you can protect your family’s financial future and inheritance.