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Talking about and planning for your death may not be an easy or comfortable subject but if you die and don’t have a valid will it can have major complications for your loved ones.

People readily assume that everything they have gathered and earned in their life will automatically be left behind to the obvious and intended beneficiaries when they pass away. This is however not always the case and if you die without a legal will, the legislation will determine how your assets will be distributed.

What Is A Will?

A will is a legal document which comes into effect when you die and stipulates how your possessions, such as property, money and other assets will be distributed among your beneficiaries.

Why Do I Need A Will?

By having a will, you ensure that your belongings are divided among your chosen beneficiaries and that the estate administration process is accelerated.

The Benefits of Having A Will

  • You can appoint guardians for any minor children and protect their inheritance.
  • You can ensure that arguments over your estate are avoided.
  • It keeps a record of your assets.
  • It stipulates your wishes regarding important decisions such as decisions around life support.
  • It formally appoints of one or more trusted persons as the executors of your estate.
  • It stipulates how your debts should be settled.

What Happens If I Die Without Leaving A Will?

If you die without having a legal will in place your estate will be distributed in terms of the law. This could mean a very lengthy process and that some unfavourable beneficiaries might benefit from your estate. It could also lead to additional and unnecessary costs such as tax implications that will reduce your inheritance.

How Do I Get A Will?

A will should preferably be drafted by a lawyer or similar person with the necessary knowledge and expertise in the field to ensure that your will complies with all the legal requirements.

You should make a point to regularly revise and update the document to incorporate any changes in your circumstances such as new investments or assets, changes in marital status, the addition of new family members, the death of a beneficiary or medical reasons such as a life-threatening illness or chronic medical condition.  

It is also important for your nominated beneficiaries to know where to access copies of your will and other important documents and to ensure that the beneficiaries on all your policies are up to date.