Stay abreast of COVID-19 information and developments here

Provided by the South African National Department of Health     

Your wealth structures:

time to declutter?

author image

Stanley Broun

Head of Fiduciary and Tax

It’s hard to believe we’re already in the third month of the year. Most of us have by now long forgotten our January resolutions to clear all the clutter that tends to accumulate in our lives – in the house, the garage and the garden. However, although tackling those cupboards is likely to remain a long-term project, there’s no better time than the present to declutter your financial affairs. This means conducting a thorough review of your wealth structures – including trusts – and updating your most important documents.

In the face of so much uncertainty in the world today, affecting markets both globally and in South Africa, how can you best prepare from a wealth planning perspective? In our view, the most important thing you can do to ensure you’re not caught off-guard when the unpredictable happens – as it always does – is to take a long, hard look at all aspects of your assets and to simplify your wealth structures as far as possible. At the very least, it’s advisable to keep documents such as local and offshore wills and life policies updated.

How should one go about conducting a wealth structure review? The following questions will help you to decide what action to take:

Last will and testament

  • Have you reviewed your will over the past 12 months?
  • Have you acquired or disposed of any assets mentioned in your will? Have both your local and offshore wills been updated accordingly?
  • If you’ve taken funds offshore to invest, depending on the jurisdiction of these assets, have you ensured that you have an offshore will?
  • Do you have a living will?
  • Do you still want the beneficiaries nominated in your will to benefit, and have any of them passed away since you last updated your will?
  • Have you acquired immovable property offshore? If so, where applicable, have you ensured that your will is drafted to deal with your property or similar assets at your date of death?
  • If you have minor children, do you have nominated guardians?


  • When last was your trust deed reviewed to ensure that it is up to date with the most recent legislation and court cases?
  • Is there an independent trustee in office?
  • Is the administration of your trust up to date, i.e. resolutions, agreements, and minutes of trustee meetings?
  • Is the trust registered for tax, and are the tax affairs of the trust up to date?
  • Does your trust have a bank account?
  • Have any of the income and capital beneficiaries ceased their South African tax residency, and have the trustees considered the possible tax consequences for beneficiaries who are not ordinarily resident in South Africa?

A detailed review of your existing wealth structures will go a long way towards ensuring you have all the building blocks in place to continue your legacy. At the same time, it’s crucial that you consider both investment and trustee training for your children, especially if they will inherit an investment portfolio from your estate or will become trustees of the family discretionary trust. Equipping the next generation with the proper tools will place them in a position to further the legacy you’ve bequeathed to them.

If you need assistance in answering these questions, or in deciding on the right course of action to simplify your wealth structures and your financial affairs to ensure they’re correctly positioned for all (or at least most) eventualities, please don’t hesitate to contact us at

we can assist you with
Thank you for your email, we'll get back to you shortly