South African families come in all shapes and sizes. No matter your family portrait, one thing unites us all: the need to ensure our loved ones are taken care of should life take an unexpected turn.

But here’s a shocking fact for you – almost 80% of South Africans don’t have a will. There is a mistaken belief that wills are only necessary for people with lots of assets. Not true! If you have a minor child (under 18 years), pets, a car or house, savings or investments of any size, photos or music in the cloud, or even sentimental items such as jewellery or art – valuable or not– then you need a will. Not only is it important to have a signed will so that our final wishes are known, and your family provided for, but also to avoid those will-reading squabbles that we always see play out in the movies.

When our kids were little, we got a will to rest assured that they would be okay if anything should happen to us and to appoint a legal guardian should this ever become necessary. And then as our family grew in size, we needed to update our will to include each child. As a family through adoption, we also needed to stay on top of updates as each adoption was finalized and name changes etc were done.

Do you have a will yet? Maybe you see the process of drafting a will as complex and expensive?

Don’t Stress! The process is always the same, but there are subtle nuances to consider, depending on your unique family structure. It’s also vital to keep your will current, changing it whenever there’s a major life event, like marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, the death of a beneficiary, or changes in financial circumstances. If you’re part of the 80% of South Africans who don’t have a will because you buy into the myths or simply just haven’t gotten around to it, these are the basics you need to know to get started:

  • A valid will needs to be in writing and signed in front of and by two competent witnesses who do not stand to inherit from the estate. You can’t just scribble it down on a piece of paper and stash it in a drawer.
  • If it feels overwhelming or you don’t know where to start, a financial advisor, wills consultant or lawyer can guide you through the process.
  • Alternatively, you can download templates online. Sanlam has a selection of free will templates, tailored to suit specific family structures.

If you’ve read this far, this is a sign to get a will or update your will. In recognition of National Wills Week, Sanlam are drafting free wills for the whole month of September.

A key consideration is making sure you have enough cash in your estate to cover all debts, costs, cash bequests and taxes payable during one’s lifetime, and income tax, capital gains tax and estate duty upon your death. Sanlam Trust found that over 40% of the deceased estates it administers did not… This can have serious consequences for loved ones left behind. Planning for these costs through a policy such as the Sanlam Legacy Plan, can alleviate these extra financial stresses.

So no excuses, get in touch with them today to get the ball rolling.

Will you or won’t you?

*This post was sponsored by Sanlam Trust



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