This is one of the most difficult topics to talk about especially as a family, planning for life when you are no more. Yes, we going to talk about the will and the last testament. I have been avoiding this subject for long, but just realized that for the sake of my children and my loved ones it’s something l have to let out. We don’t know our tomorrow; we hope and pray for a long life but time is not ours. This is the reason why am going to share this uncomfortable topic. Hearing on the news how the numbers of death cases due to COVID keep increasing by each day is just very disturbing. The first question which comes to my mind is, “Do they have at least a will for their dependants?” I scrutinized myself and realized that l have been procrastinating in filling our Will which we obtained last year and we have been saying we will do it the following month. It hit me hard when two of my colleagues passed away, l remember vividly how fine and healthy they were and the next thing they are gone, just like that.
So; what is a Will and Last Testament?
A will and last testament are documents that determine what happens to your property and wealth when you die. It lays out whom your belongings should go to, how, and who’s in charge of making that happen. Making a will also give you the opportunity to name an executor (the person responsible for distributing your assets) and a legal guardian for your children.
What Happens if I Die Without Making a Will?
If you don’t have a will and last testament in place when you die, the government will figure out how to deal with your property and wealth. Thus, mean the government will take care of control of your assets and appoints an executor from your family. Who knows if the person will have the best interest at heart for your dependents? Not governed by a will and testament will go to the people you’ve specified on those accounts. Otherwise, the courts will try to identify your heirs and distribute your assets accordingly. The state will also figure out who should claim guardianship of your children. For many people, simply sitting down to think through these questions can make a tremendous difference. Of course, if your situation is complex or if you have specific questions, it’s a good idea to speak to a qualified legal professional. Some shocking statistics almost R80million of the Guardian’s Fund is defrauded annually in South Africa!
How to Write a Will
When you’re learning how to write a will, one of the most important things is to simply get started. Decide whether you want to hire a lawyer, or have a company like Capital Legacy assist you or write on your own. You can buy a will in stationery shops like CNA
- Identify your will beneficiaries (the people who will inherit the things you’ve left behind).
- Choose a legal guardian for your child (that’s the person who would take care of your kids if worst comes to worst).
- Decide on an executor for your estate (that’s the person who’s tasked with fulfilling your wishes).
- Consider other wishes, like any particular instructions about your funeral.
- Sign your will and testament.
- Find two witnesses (people who aren’t listed in your will) and ask them to sign, too.
Information You’ll Need for Writing a Will
- Your assets: That includes bank account balances, real estate, investments, retirement plans, life insurance policies, artwork, and anything else you’re leaving behind.
- Your debts: Your last will and testament can help establish how your estate should settle your debts. First, your assets will likely pay for any validity costs and funeral expenses. Then they’ll flow to your outstanding debts. If you leave your beneficiary a house that’s partially mortgaged, will he or she have to sell it to keep up with mortgage payments?
- Your beneficiaries: These are the people or organizations who will inherit the belongings and assets you leave behind.
- The executor of your estate: The executor will make sure your wishes are carried out and your finances are in order. This could include making sure your beneficiaries receive the money you’ve left them. It can also include filing your final taxes, paying any bills you left behind, and closing your financial accounts.
- Your children’s legal guardian: This legal guardian will be responsible for your children’s welfare. That includes food, shelter, health, and schooling until age 18.
Make sure you have a will in place that includes a testamentary trust. This is a trust that comes into effect on either your death or the death of both parents. This protects the children’s inheritance until they reach the age of maturity, or later, depending on the age selected.
Every parent needs a will!
A will is an essential document that makes sure your wishes are carried out. It protects your children when you no longer can.
By Tarie Manyonga