Making a will to protect your loved ones

The cost of making a will. Protect your loved ones.

Learn about the fundamentals of writing a will and the cost of making a will to protect your loved ones once you are no longer here. You can never anticipate what happens to you.

Writing a will is one the most essential and basic steps in putting your financial plan in order when working with your Financial Planner. We often avoid drafting a will because we don’t want to think about our own death, unfortunately however not thinking about your will also means not thinking about your loved ones since they are the ones potentially left behind in a difficult and drawn-out process without access to their money.

All of which could easily have been avoided if time was taken to get your affairs in order.

Having a will is necessary to ensure your family is protected once you are gone. The reality is that we will all die, it is the one thing in financial planning you can be certain of.

You may not get disabled, you may not contract a dreaded disease, it is even possible that you may never retire but you will one day leave your loved ones behind in a situation that can either be very sad but organised and easy to sort through or sad, frustrating and potentially more expensive than it needs to be.

The cost of making a will is minuscule and will cost you some of your time to have a discussion with a professional BUT the cost of not making a will or not making it correctly can cost your loved ones’ years of grief and frustration.

We have all heard of or know that person who is or has been stuck with a deceased estate that is not wrapped up after years or either administration and potentially fighting.

Do not do that to the people you care about.

The importance of drawing up a will

There are misconceptions surrounding creating a will. A lot of people believe that they do not possess enough assets to have a will, which is mistake number 1.

The 2nd biggest misconception surrounding a will is that people postpone writing a last will and testament since they believe there is still plenty of time. We all like to think that it will never happen to me. That is exactly what every person you know of who passed away unexpectedly thought too. Life is extremely dynamic and unexpected.

Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

In the absence of a will, a lot of stress and uncertainty will be present. Not just for you but for your loved ones, your family members and the people that you leave behind.

Your assets do not go to the government which is the 3rd biggest misconception, but the government will have to appoint an executor since you did not do so in your will. This alone can delay the process of winding up your estate significantly.

Once appointed this person also usually doesn’t view your case as a high priority since you are normally one of many cases they have to deal with and they have no personal relationship or sense of obligation to you and the deceased.

Appointing your own executor in your will ensures you have someone you trust managing your affairs when you are gone with a dedicated sense of responsibility towards you and your family. You can also agree on a reduced fee in advance with your executor when drafting your will, this one action alone will potentially save you thousands if not tens of thousands of Rands in fees.

A government-appointed executor is likely to charge the maximum executors fee of 3.5% excl Vat. With the mindset that you will always be able to make a will at a later stage, you leave your family open to unnecessary risk.

The basics of drafting and drawing up a last will and testament

Will preparation is your most imperative estate planning tool and one of the most critical documents you will ever draft. Throughout your lifetime you will come across a handful of critical documents that you must prepare, and your will is one of these documents.

To make the process less daunting, we have listed the 5 basics to write your own will:

1. Keep it simple
2. Use a will writing service
3. Make sure your will is signed, dated and witnessed
4. Beneficiaries, Trustees & Executors must Not sign as witnesses
5. Choose your witnesses carefully

Let’s take a deeper dive into how our will services make use of these 5 basics to ensure that your family and loved ones will have peace of mind while being protected.

Keep it simple

The simpler your will, the better. There is no need to draft an over complicated will as the more complicated it becomes, the harder it gets to enforce that will and the more likely you inadvertently create contradictory stipulations.

Use a will writing service

When making a will get it done by a professional. Often, there are many administrative errors that cause a will to be invalid.

It is vital for a will to be error free. It is also important to note that often the language used in DIY wills is misinterpreted. Getting your financial advisor to help draw up your will can assist tremendously and make sure that you properly understand the process involved and implications of what you have stipulated.

Make sure your will is signed

A will must be signed on every page with original signatures as well as at the end of the document. One missed signature can mean that your family is left with further angst when you are gone since the will can more easily be contested on technical grounds.

Beneficiaries must not sign as witnesses

Important to note: never use someone who is a beneficiary, the executor or a trustee as a witness in your will.

Anyone that has assisted in drafting your will or signed as a witness is not liable to receive any benefit from that particular estate. Make sure your signatures are valid. A witness does not need to know what the contents of your will are. Their only function is to confirm that you signed in their presence. Essentially to be able to make sure the signature on your last will and testament is in fact yours.

Choose your witnesses carefully

To ensure your will is executed and your wishes are carried out, choose 2 people who are able to witness you signing your will.

Every will must be witnessed by 2 people who need to be over the age of 14 years old and must be competent to appear in a court of law.

The witnesses of your will must sign on every page. As your witnesses, they do not need to know or understand the particulars of your will. The reason that 2 witnesses need to be present is just to confirm that you have signed in their presence.

What happens if you do not have a will when you are no longer around?

Many people think that if you do not have a will, the state will take ownership of your possessions. This is not true.

The confusion around this lies in the term used to describe a deceased estate that does not have a will – Intestate succession.

This means that someone passed away without writing a will. Intestate succession has a set of rules regarding how the appointed executor must deal with your belongings. This results, Not in your possessions being taken by the state but that they are distributed according to a fixed formula.

This formula may not be an accurate reflection of your wishes and could also result in children inheriting from a deceased parent at an age when they are not responsible enough to make wise decisions as to what to do with their inheritance.

The problem with intestate succession is that it can delay the process and result in your wishes of distribution not being implemented as you would have desired.

This results in your spouse receiving either an equal share with the children or an amount of R 250 000 whichever is the greater and the balance is split between your children evenly.

With the cost of making a will being minimal, it makes sense to pre-plan and protect your loved ones from not receiving the correct assets.

Our will writing service ensures your family is protected. Often, we get questions regarding wills. Here we address the most frequent questions.

Does a person need to have a minimum amount of assets to create a will?

No. A person can create a will to pass on their assets worth R1000 or R10 000 000. There is no requirement for a minimum of assets to create a will. It is important that one understands the distribution of their assets as there will be tax implications. This should be discussed and provided for with your Financial Planner. The last thing you want is for assets to have to be sold just to pay your death taxes and fees.

Who should I choose as the executor of my will?

The duty of an executor is to ensure that the stipulated wishes in your will are carried out. The job of an executor is not easy. A trusted person such as a family member could easily make a mistake. It is important that your executor is either assisted by a professional or is a professional that understands the technical process of winding up an estate. This will ensure that your will gets properly executed.

Does my will need to be updated and if so, how often should it be updated?

It is important to revisit your will at pivotal moments in your life such as marriage, the birth of a child, divorce etc. We recommend that it be reviewed at least every year as part of your normal annual review with your financial planner. At the very least every 2 years.

For your will to be valid it needs to be drawn up in the correct manner and you will need to be over the age of 16 years.

There are many other implications regarding your will that is best left to be discussed with your financial planner. Get in touch with your financial advisor today to find out the cost of making a will. Ensure your will and estate are properly planned and loved ones protected.