A will is a very important document as it makes sure your wishes are carried out and protects your children when you no longer can.
However, there are circumstances where your wishes can be superseded.
Your retirement funds do not fall under your will. While you can indicate beneficiaries in both your will and the beneficiary form of your retirement fund, the final decision will be made by the trustees of the retirement fund. They will first consider any financial dependants which could include young children from another relationship or a former spouse receiving maintenance.
Listen to Maya and Mapalo Makhu discussing this topic in the My Money, My Lifestyle podcast.
Your life cover or even living annuity will be paid out to whoever you nominated in your policy and not according to your will, unless you made your estate the beneficiary of the policy.
A court can also rule to ensure that minor children and children with special needs are catered for before the estate can pay out to other beneficiaries. The same applies to a former spouse who may have depended on you financially. The Maintenance of Surviving Spouse Act allows a former spouse to lodge a claim against the estate for reasonable maintenance needs.
And finally, if you are married in community of property you cannot bequeath your house or car to a person other than your spouse, as your spouse owns half of your entire estate. This even applies when leaving assets to your children – you can only bequeath half your estate.
Even if you are married under accrual, upon death, a calculation of both estates must be made, the partner whose estate has grown by less has a claim against the other’s estate.
While a basic will may suffice, once you have children or a larger estate it is worth getting advice to make sure your wishes are in line with the law.
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- Don’t get caught out by a poorly thought-out will
- All the ins and outs of estate planning
- Bequeathing property in your will – how it can go wrong
- Is your will worth the paper it’s written on?
- Your will holds your wishes, but be careful what you wish for