September celebrates National Wills Week, a reminder to us all about the importance and necessity to create a Last Will and Testament. According to recent statistics, only 30% of South Africans have a will – which means that we have to be talking about this a lot more!
We have seen countless movies and TV series detailing the hijinx that can occur without a will. Unfortunately, in the movies all people with wills are either rich or eccentric, leaving many of us with the impression that a formal Last Will and Testament isn’t really for ordinary people.
However, it’s an essential element of a robust portfolio.
If you have loved ones and/or any possessions to your name, or children who would need to be cared for – you would greatly benefit from a professionally drafted will.
The dangers of DIY
Some may feel that it’s cheaper to simply write up their own will and keep it as general as possible so that ‘everything is covered’. The reality is that it’s generally not expensive and having sweeping generalities only complicates matters.
Legal details and regulations change regularly regarding wills. Unless it’s your job, it can be hard to understand and keep up with the constant changes. Even a small detail in a will that’s incorrect or not in line with legislation can leave your loved ones paying extra legal fees and waiting months and even years to iron out the details – or worse, left without enough income to cover monthly expenses.
Vague wording like “I leave my cars to my sons” is typical of a DIY will, and may be disputed – turning into an expensive and lengthy legal battle. What if the one car is worth R80,000 and another is worth R300,000? What if someone arrives, claiming to be a son? Words like ‘descendants’, ‘my business’ or ‘personal items’ are also legally vague, pitfalls and loopholes are hard to spot if you’re not a trained lawyer.
Legal terminology like “bequest of the residue” are terms you may have never heard of and would certainly not put in your Last Will and Testament – all the more reason to hire a professional and save your family the additional heartache and stress later.