Reviewing your Will

2It is important to review your Will from time to time especially if there has been a birth of a child, marriage, divorce, death of a beneficiary or executor, inheritance that is not part of the existing Will, etc.

If you are looking to update your Will, it is probably a good idea to take note of the following tips:

  • If you wish to leave your assets to your spouse and children, it is not a good idea to divide them amongst them equally– except if your estate consists of cash only. To transfer a home into the names of both the spouse and children’s names, may lead to practical problems and family disputes, especially if the children should marry. To transfer a motor vehicle into the names of four people for example is also not practical.
  • It is not advisable to include funeral arrangements in your Will. The reason for this is that your Will is typically only read after the funeral. Rather inform your family about your funeral wishes beforehand.
  • If you have minor children, you should consider, in the absence of a guardian after your death, appointing someone as their guardian in your Will. If you are divorced and paying maintenance, you should keep this responsibility towards your former spouse and children in mind when drafting your Will.
  • It is very important to identify the person you wish to appoint as executor of your Will. It is the task of the executor to administer your estate in accordance with the stipulations of your Will and to look after the best interest of your heirs.
  • Keep your Will up to date by revising it regularly.
  • Make sure your Will is valid. The Wills Act stipulates exactly what a Will should conform to. Ask an expert if you’re unsure.
  • Avoid commands such as that all assets have to be sold.
  • Make provision for the protection of heirs such as minors and spendthrifts. A testamentary trust is an ideal solution in most instances.
  • Heirs must be clearly identified by full names, surname, relationship and, if available, identity number.
  • Please note that certain monies such as annuities, pensions and group insurance paid outside the estate by the Board of Trustees of the fund/scheme do not form part of an estate. The same goes for a ceded policy or a policy with a nominated beneficiary. Your Will only disposes of assets that forms part of your estate.
  • The word “wish” in a Will must also be used correctly so that the testator’s intentions are very clear to the executor. If, for example, the testator expressed the wish that his estate assets be sold, doubt could sometimes arise, depending on the exact wording, as to whether it is a directive or only a wish. If the word “direct” is used, and depending on the exact wording of the specific bequest, there should be no doubt that the executor has to carry out such directive and sell the assets.

Source: Sanlam Trust

Andries Maree


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