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​​​​​​National Wills Week: Why Do You Need a Will?

5 September 2018

Have you been divorced or widowed recently? Have you bought a property? Have you been living with your partner for some time? Do a number of people depend on you financially?

If so, you should have a legally sound Will to ensure that there won’t be competing claims on your estate when you die. Your Will is one of the most important documents you Will ever sign. It contains important information about all the assets you have accumulated over the years, as well as your final wishes. But, above all, it represents financial peace of mind to those you leave behind.

Many people believe that a Will is only for wealthy people. This is not true – even if you live a modest life, it is still important to draft a Will. Below are the steps to follow to ensure you have a valid Will in place.

Step 1: Drafting Your Will

It is not advisable to draft your own Will unless, of course, you are an expert. Rather speak to your Sanlam adviser or accredited broker and convey your wishes as well as your intended heirs or beneficiaries. If your Will is fairly straightforward, you can also draft it yourself on-line.

Step 2: Choosing an Executor

The nomination of an executor is a big responsibility. You may nominate your spouse, but this is in most cases not a good idea, since your spouse could be emotionally devastated and not ready to make important financial decisions. Should your spouse not know what to do under these circumstances, they will not search for the best advice or service. He or she may also be exposed to someone serving their own interests, in which case the estate's cheque book might end up in the wrong hands. Generally, the Master of the High Court, who actually appoints the executor or executrix, Will insist on a legal professional or trust company being appointed.

Step 3: Signing and Witnessing of Your Will

If you are happy with the wording of your Will, sign the original version and have it witnessed by two witnesses older than 14 years. Remember, you have to sign the Will in the presence of both witnesses, who have to initial each page and fully sign the last one.

The following persons may not sign as witnesses:

  • Anyone that receives anything from your deceased estate and/or their spouse.
  • The executors, trustees and guardians and/or their spouses.

Step 4: Submitting the Will for Safekeeping

If you have nominated Sanlam Trust as the executor or co-executor of your estate, your original signed Will is kept in the Wills Vault until it’s time to finalise your estate.

Step 5: Paying Your Safe Custody Fee

For a nominal fee of R57.50 per annum, your Will is kept safe, plus you receive a number of other benefits, one being a 5% discount on your executor’s fees for estates larger than R950 000 when Sanlam Trust finalises your estate. If you are over 65 years, you don’t pay the safe custody fee.

Step 6: Reviewing Your Will

Review your Will at least every two years, and especially when you had a change in personal circumstances such as getting married or divorced, the death of a spouse or an heir, birth of a child, acquiring property or a business, or receiving an inheritance.

If you need to draft a new Will or simply want to review an existing one to check if it still complies with your last documented wishes, please contact us.

National Wills Week

As has been the case for the past few years, you can have a basic will drafted for free during National Wills Week, which runs from Monday 17 September to Friday 21 September this year. By simply providing some key information, you can conveniently create your own will online. Draft your online Will now, speak to your financial adviser or contact us today on +27 21 947 5673 or email us at OnlineWills@sanlam.co.za for expert advice.

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