Secure your family's future through sound estate planning
The benefits of estate planning and having a valid will are undisputed and go hand-in-hand. Structuring your estate in a cost-effective way enables you to preserve and grow your wealth for the benefit of your heirs, while having a valid and up-to-date will ensures your estate will be distributed according to your personal wishes. ‘The set-up and needs of every family are unique, and can be complex, so it’s a good idea to speak to an accredited financial adviser who can help you make informed decisions suited to your specific situation,’ says Shakira Bodasing, senior legal adviser, Old Mutual. ‘Most importantly, a financial adviser can give you insight into the cost or tax implications of your various options.’
What needs to be your focus when estate planning?
Bodasing explains there are two main priorities when it comes to estate planning:
– The first priority is to make sure you have enough liquid assets (assets that can be easily converted into cash) to pay all your liabilities (outstanding debts and taxes as well as estate duties and executor fees). Options to cover these and other expenses include taking out a life insurance plan, which generally pays out promptly and is not tied up in the estate bank account.
– Your second priority is to manage and maximise your assets so that you can provide your beneficiaries with the financially secure future you envisage for them.
What happens if you die without having a valid will?
If you die ‘intestate’, your estate will be administered and wound up according to the Intestate Succession Act by the Master of the High Court. You will have no say in the appointment of the executor or guardian, nor will you have a voice in the distribution of your assets.
Can you appoint your own executor in your will?
Yes, in your will you can state who you want to appoint as the executor of your will. This could be a trusted family member (but preferably one who is not also a beneficiary) or an attorney. The role of the executor can be complex, and you need to carefully consider who takes up this role.
More useful estate planning tips:
– Check your will regularly and update it whenever you experience a major life change. Having a child or getting married or divorced are likely to affect your choice of beneficiaries, for instance. Financial events like buying a new property or business also need to be reflected in your will.
– If you want to make significant changes to your will, it is best to draw up a new one. Your new will must include the date and state upfront that it revokes (cancels or renders invalid) all previous wills and codicils. If possible, destroy the old will and its copies.
– Store the most recent original will safely with your lawyer or bank. Speak to your financial adviser regarding secure options.