September is Heritage Month and so it seemed appropriate that our WageWise theme be all about your legacy. This means the money, property and assets that you are leaving behind for your family and for future generations. To do this, you need a will.
“A will is a legal document which allows you to both distribute your assets after death and appoint guardians for minor children.”
Although not an easy topic, having a will is really important. It means that you, rather than someone else, gets to decide what happens to your things when you pass away. This means that you can choose how to distribute your possessions (such as property, vehicles, money, and jewellery) among your family, partners, friends and even charities. A will can also allow you to specify your funeral wishes and, in general, can reduce some of the stress placed on your loved ones.
TOP TIP: Keep your will up-to-date so that when you pass away, the right people get your belongings. This is especially important when circumstances change, such as when getting married or the birth of a child.
If you pass away without a will, then the Government appoints an Executor to administer your assets and they decide who gets what. The problem with this is that your things may not go to the right people and it can create some sadness and anger for those you leave behind.
So, what do you need to know about drafting a will?
Here’s a quick 9-item checklist to help you:
✅ Information to easily identify yourself
✅ Complete and accurate list of your assets
✅ Decide who gets what and list the full names and relationships of your beneficiaries
✅ Choose an executor who will be your personal representative
✅ If you have children who are minors, choose a guardian for them
✅ If you have any specific requests for your funeral
✅ Sign and date your will in front of witnesses
✅ Have two people witness the will who are not beneficiaries
✅ Store your will safely
Who can help me with my will?
While it is possible to find self-help articles to draw up a will on your own, it is better to go through a professional agency as it is a legal document and you don’t want there to be any issues.
These agencies include:
- Any commercial bank
- A legal attorney
- A chartered accountant
- Various will and testament specialists
TOP TIP: Whichever option you choose, it is important to be aware that there may be costs involved in the process.
Once you have drawn up your will you can register it, free of charge, at the South African Registry of Wills and Testaments for safekeeping or you can store it in a safe place which is known to a few close friends or family members.