Here’s what will happen if you don’t have a Will

By Zelda Mulder, September 2022

More than 70% of South-Africans pass away without a valid Will in place, this means that 70% of South-African families struggle with the loss of a loved one and must try to sort out their affairs that were not in order. Wills week was initiated by the Law Society of South Africa to create awareness on this issue and to change the statistics around this for the better.

A Last Will and Testament is a document that stipulates your last wishes. This will probably be the most important document that you will ever sign. Your Will is the document that will be the starting point for the plan of action if you should pass way. 

What will happen if you pass away without a Will:

  • You will lose out on the opportunity to decide on who will inherit your assets. Failing to nominate someone to inherit these assets will result in your assets being divided according to South African Law.
  • There can be conflict between family members if the are no clear instructions on your final wishes.
  • If you are not married your partner can be left without anything or if your will is not updated from a previous marriage.
  • If you have minor children, you will lose the ability to nominate a guardian of your choice.
  • The inheritance you leave your children could pass to the Government Guardian’s fund or appointed guardian. You will forfeit the opportunity to pass this to a Trust that will ensure your wishes are carried out.
  • It can take years to wind up your estate. An executor needs to be appointed to assist with the administration of your estate when you pass away. Without a will this can be a lengthy process as the Master of the High Court needs to approve the appointment and the appointed executor might not be a person that you would choose.
  • There could be extra and unnecessary costs to administrate your estate.

It’s also important to remember to keep your Will up to date with your life events such as divorce, marriage, childbirth, buying a house, etc.

When should you start thinking about a Will and Testament?

Most individuals think that if they don’t own property, they don’t need a will. Most only see property as an asset. However, assets do not necessarily just refer to a house or car. This can also be a bank account, furniture, clothes, etc. Every person over the age of 16 years old, that has some sort of asset or dependants, needs to have a will.

Where should you start?

Consider the following:

  • Who should inherit your things?
  • If you have minor children, who will be their guardian?
  • Do you have children with special needs?
  • Who else is dependent on you? Parents, Sibling, etc.
  • Do you need to leave them something?
  • Who will be the executor of your Will? It is also important to consider if this person will be able to deal with the legalities of estate administration.

Documentation that you need to set up the will:

  • A list of what you own
  • Your ID Document
  • Where applicable, the details of the individual that you want to nominate in your estate (guardians, beneficiaries, minors, spouses, etc)

Setting up your will seems like a daunting task, but death is inevitable and the best gift you can give your family is to prepare for the future. Our team can assist you to draft you action plan and to make sure that it is possible to action these wishes. We will guide you through every step and ensure that when the time comes that your family can focus on what is important.

Get in touch with us now!


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