You are Here > Home > Financial planning > Don’t get caught out by a poorly thought-out Will

Don’t get caught out by a poorly thought-out Will

May 1, 2016

By David Knott, fiduciary expert at Private Client Trust

drafting and updating your willBuying insurance, and drafting and updating your Will, can be put next to each other on the list of things that we don’t really want to do, and often put off doing. For many of us insurance is a grudge purchase, until the day we need to use it and then we are reminded about how essential having adequate insurance is.

The same applies to drafting and updating your Will. Many feel that there will always be time later to think about a Will, but “later” often arrives too soon, and unnecessary hardship and unintended consequences are the result if something happens to you and you did not have an up-to-date and well thought-out Will.

Many people think about their Will for the first time just before they get married, when the attorney preparing their antenuptial contract suggests that they draft a Will.

Typically this Will would leave the entire estate of the first dying spouse to the survivor, and if the couple die simultaneously, then the estates would devolve upon their children. But the Will should go further, to consider what would happen if, for example, the couple meet with a motor accident while on honeymoon.

In this hypothetical case, the husband is fatally injured whilst the wife lingers on in intensive care for a few days or weeks before succumbing. The husband’s estate, which might include donations and other assistance from his family, would devolve upon his wife which in turn would be combined with her estate and this would devolve upon her intestate heirs, probably her parents. Naturally the husband’s parents might feel aggrieved at this arrangement. The Will should ideally have stipulated a reasonable division of the combined estate back to both sets of parents should the couple die without children.

And what if the marriage ends in divorce? The Wills Act makes provision that a Will signed before the divorce effectively freezes any benefit to the divorced spouse for a three-month period, should the other party die. Once the three-month period has passed, the law re-instates the terms of the Will, benefiting the previous partner again. Essentially the law allows a divorced person a three-month window to amend his or her Will.

Another example of how things can go awry without a well-advised Will is if a widow or widower were to remarry late in life. “Often there are adult children who support the arrangement as they would like their parent to be happy in their golden years. However, the children are later unhappy following the death of that parent when they discover that the step-parent inherits the estate of their own parent, thereby taking what the children believe to be their right. The parent, rightfully accepting responsibility for the welfare of their new partner, could have created a trust in their Will to provide for the new partner without disinheriting their own children.

So a Will needs to be carefully considered and updated frequently to avoid hardships and heartache for your heirs and beneficiaries. There is also no wrong time to consider a Will. A Will can be executed by anyone over the age of 16 who in mentally competent, and should be amended whenever circumstances change, be it financial or family. The important aspect is to consult with an expert to make sure all eventualities and contingencies have been adequately covered.

Lastly the Will must be drafted in a clear, concise form and must be signed, dated and witnessed in the prescribed manner.

For more information or assistance with your Will, contact Private Client Trust on (021) 671 1220 or info@privateclient.co.za.

Related articles:

0 Comments

Maya Fisher-French author of Money Questions Answered

Previous Articles

The ‘silent’ changes affecting South Africans who are emigrating

The transition from the old emigration regime to the current regime ‒ ceasing of tax residency ‒ came with some relief. However, there were some changes that went largely unnoticed. By Lovemore Ndlovu, SARS and Exchange Control Specialist at Tax Consulting SA, and...

Vote for your GEPF trustees

The Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) will be holding its elections for new trustees from January to May 2022. GEPF elections are held every four years and are an opportunity for pensioners and members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and...

Five ways to boost your income and financial knowledge

Angelique Ruzicka shares five ideas for how you can improve your financial knowledge and possibly boost your income. Boosting your income, especially during a pandemic, can feel nigh on impossible, especially when costs are going up and you’ve been told there’s no...

Financial tools to keep you on track in 2022

Advances in technology mean that it’s now so easy to keep track of your finances and achieve savings goals, using smartphone apps, websites, and other online financial tools, says Angelique Ruzicka. If you’re still using Excel or some other rudimentary means to keep...

Savvy ways to use your bonus

Many companies are cash strapped due to the impact of Covid-19, but if you are one of the lucky few who got a bonus or windfall this year, it will be tempting to spend it to celebrate surviving another tough year. However, money experts recommend being a bit cautious,...

Delivery scams on the rise

Cybersecurity researchers are urging consumers to be on the lookout for delivery scams following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and in the lead-up to the holidays. This comes after Mimecast’s threat-hunting team detected malicious emails and spoofed web pages...

Don’t be caught out by delayed premium increases

As medical schemes announce their pricing and benefits for next year, most have delayed their premium increases until later in 2022. The ability of medical schemes not to push through these increases in January is due to the significant surpluses they built up in...

Above-inflation returns for the GEPF

The Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) saw a significant 27.5% growth in its portfolio over the most recent financial year, bringing the total value of the fund to nearly R2.1 trillion. According to the annual financial results for the year ended 31 March 2021,...

Government finances as a household budget

Government faces the same tough choices as South African households when it comes to its budget. Last week our new finance minister Enoch Godongwana laid out the plans for government’s spending over the next three years. The medium-term budget lays out the framework...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This