The team at Eksekuteurs vir Boedels en Testamente has witnessed the chaos and drama that ensue when a loved one passes away without a will. Our mission is to minimise the chaos during the loss of a loved one, and we hope this article will empower you to make informed decisions — because your legacy is at stake. The most important part of planning is to start.
“My advice is, never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time and legacy." — Charles Dickens (adapted).
Procrastination is the enemy of progress, and this is especially true when it comes to drafting a will. Your will is a legally binding document that outlines how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. It also allows you to nominate guardians for your minor children and make other important decisions about your estate.
Unfortunately, many people delay drafting a will for various reasons, and they are part of the 75% of South Africans who die without a will. They may think they are too young, don't have many assets, or believe the process is too complicated. However, the truth is that everyone, regardless of age or assets, should have a will.
Different stages of your life
Life has various stages, and hopefully you have the opportunity to experience most of them. As you go through phases of life, the necessity of a will becomes increasingly crucial. Let's explain why:
In your 20s and 30s
In your 20s and 30s, you may not have many assets or dependents but you should still seriously consider drafting a will. You may have a car, jewellery, heirlooms or savings that you want to leave to specific individuals. In your will, you can appoint an executor who is responsible for carrying out your wishes.
If you have minor children, think about who would be a suitable guardian. In the event that something happens to you, this will assist social workers in guiding the court about your preferences. Without a guardian nomination, the court may appoint someone for you who might not be your chosen person. And hey, don't forget about those digital assets like cryptocurrencies, so your loved ones aren't left bewildered in the crypto wilderness!
In your 40s and 50s
Life becomes more complicated in your 40s and 50s. You may have acquired more assets, bought a house, had children or experienced the financial impact of a divorce. Update your will to reflect these changes. Consider who you want to inherit your assets and property, including charitable organisations or causes you support.
Perhaps you've ventured into the business world or have foreign assets — additional considerations for your will. And don't forget those retirement and life insurance policies; they go to the designated beneficiary, regardless of what your will says. Ensure your beneficiary designations reflect your current wishes.
Into your 60s and beyond
If you have retired, sold your house, left businesses or lost a spouse, it's time to update your will. Consider your healthcare wishes and include them in your will. A living will provides an outline of your end-of-life care preferences.
It is essential to discuss your wishes with your loved ones. Let them know where your will is located and who your executor is. This conversation can help prevent confusion and conflict after your passing.
Regardless of the life stage you're in, having a will is of paramount importance. A will ensures your wishes are followed and your loved ones are taken care of after your death. Even if you don't have many assets or properties, a will is still crucial as it eliminates confusion and conflict by clearly documenting your wishes.
So, don't let procrastination steal your wishes. Draft your will and take control of your legacy.
Contact Eksekuteurs vir Boedels en Testamente today, click here.
♦ VWB ♦
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