What should you include in your will?

A valid will ensures your wishes are carried out, makes it easier for your family, and protects your children when you no longer can.

You need to nominate an executor to administer the deceased estate. You can appoint a professional executor or nominate a responsible friend or family member who in turn can appoint a professional to assist. However, if you have a simple estate of less than R125 000, you do not need an executor.

You also need to nominate your heirs. If your estate is worth more than R3.5 million there will be estate duty so it is worth getting advice. For example there is no estate duty if you leave your estate to your spouse, but estate duty can apply if you leave more than R3.5 million to your children.

Ensure that your will aligns with your marriage contract. In community of property means that half of your estate belongs to your spouse.

You also need to nominate a guardian if you have young children, and stipulate what will happen to them if both parents die. This is especially important for single parents.

Decide if the inheritance goes straight to the minor children and is administered by the guardian, or create a testamentary trust. This protects the money until the child reaches adulthood.

Some points to consider:

  • You can write up your own will, which is valid as long as it is signed by two witnesses who have no financial interest in the will.
  • Your life cover will be paid out to whoever you nominated in your policy and not according to your will.
  • Your retirement funds do not fall under your will and will be paid out to your financial dependants including children from another marriage or a former spouse receiving maintenance.

Finally, make sure people know where to find your will or give a trusted person a copy. Include a list of contacts and details of all your accounts.

Make sure your will reflects your wishes!

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