Here’s the thing about financial planning: we don’t plan out of fear; we plan so that we can extend our peace of mind. This is why wills form such a key role in our planning. However, engaging in this process can be clumsy, confusing, and a little hairy, and as Ricky Gervais once said, where there’s a will – there’s a relative!
We need to talk about wills and estate planning so that we can remove the stigmas that stifle our engagement with drafting our will.
As Mvuzo Notyesi, president of the Law Society of South Africa, says, “If you are a parent, a breadwinner, a homeowner and generally want to ensure that your affairs are in order, it is important that you have a valid will drafted by an attorney.”
Global panic in early-to-mid 2020 us all to think about these documents, and requests for them to be drawn up or updated were aplenty. The risk of creating these documents under duress is that we can make mistakes, sometimes in what they cover and other times in their legitimacy when official procedures are overlooked (or not available as in hard lockdown). Being ready and willing when you’re in a time of clearer, lucid thinking is a much better approach.
Drafting a will on your own or by using a web-sourced template can sometimes be sufficient, but these will not be applicable if you are residing outside of your country or origin, if you have young children, if you have assets in different countries, if you are part of a blended family, or if you are likely to inherit money yourself. These are just a few of the factors that would not be covered by a DIY basic will.
We can connect you with qualified professionals who can establish your needs and offer professional advice on any problems that may arise, before forming your estate plan and drafting your will. You need to have access to the necessary legal knowledge and professionals with the experience to ensure that your will not only complies with your wishes, but is also valid and meets the requirements of the law.
Vague wording like “I leave my cars to my sons” is typical of a DIY will, and may be disputed – turning into an expensive and lengthy legal battle. What if the one car is worth R80,000 and another is worth R300,000? What if someone arrives, claiming to be a son? Words like ‘descendants’, ‘my business’ or ‘personal items’ are also legally vague; pitfalls and loopholes are hard to spot if you’re not a trained lawyer.
Legal terminology like “bequest of the residue” are terms you may have never heard of and would certainly not put in your Last Will and Testament – all the more reason to hire a professional and save your family the additional heartache and stress later.