3 Steps to Protect Those you Love with a Will

It cannot be overstated how important it is to have a valid and updated Will that has been professionally drafted to ensure that your loved ones are protected and cared for when you are no longer here to do so.

Yet, a sobering 70% of South Africa’s working population don’t have a Will, according to figures from the Master of the High Court. If you die intestate – which means without a valid and updated Will – your family will be left in a difficult position at an already trying time.

Fortunately, it takes just three easy steps to ensure your family will be protected and well cared for when the time comes.

1. Draw up a Will

Many people believe that they do not earn enough or have sufficient assets to draw up a Will. Others say that they are too young, or too old. Many thinks that it is too expensive or that it will take too much time.

All of these reasons not to draw up a Will are fallacies. Your earnings or assets are not the real measure of whether you need a Will or not. Provided you are older than 16, it is never too early or too late. It doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming: every year in September, during National Wills Week, you can have your Will drawn up by professionals at no cost and in less than an hour.

If you are you married, if you have property or a car in your name – even if it is financed, if you have you been recently divorced or widowed, and especially if you have minor children or people who are financially dependent on you, a Will is essential.

2. Get expert assistance

While you can download a DIY template for your Will, it is highly recommended that you enlist the assistance of a legal professional.

It is important that your Will is drawn up by an expert who thoroughly understands all the laws applicable – not only the laws governing deceased estates, but also the impact of common law and laws on the statute book, and the effect of the provisions in your Will on your loved ones and on the assets, liabilities and cash flow in your estate.

A legal professional will also draft a Will that reflects your true wishes, using the correct wording to prevent any unintentional consequences and adhering to all the formalities that must be complied with to prevent a Will from being regarded as invalid. It is also important that an executor with experience in the administration of deceased estates is appointed and that executor fees are stipulated.

3. Review your Will regularly

Reviewing and updating your Will regularly is as important as drafting a Will and getting professional assistance. You should update your Will, assisted by a legal professional, whenever there is a change in your personal circumstances, such as a marriage or divorce, the birth of a child, or the death of a beneficiary. In addition, your Will should be reviewed at least once a year to ensure it still reflects your wishes and that the implications of new or updated laws and regulations are taken into consideration.