We spoke to Emmanuel David, a financial advisor based in Midrand, about drafting a will and some of the common mistakes drafters must avoid.
Death can come when you least expect it. A will is a legal document that states your final wishes and it is therefore important not only for you, but also your loved ones.
David says a will is important because you get to decide how you want your estate to be distributed.
If you don’t have a will, your estate will be distributed in terms of the law of intestate succession. That means it may exclude people whom you would have preferred to benefit and include beneficiaries whom you may not have wished to benefit.
“The will becomes your voice when you no longer have the voice as the estate will devolve according to the will. You also decide who will wind up the affairs of your estate as you get to choose the executor who will ensure that your wishes are respected and executed on.”
He adds that it helps you communicate who you want to “take care of the financial affairs of the young beneficiaries”, and if there is a Trust, you can also nominate your own Trustees.
David warns that one common mistake drafters make is not updating the will regularly when circumstances change. He also cautions against not include substitute beneficiaries should the drafter, spouse and children happen to die together at the same time.
What are some of the crucial things that should be included in a will?
“Burial preferences (burial or cremation), guardian for minor children, creation of Trust for minor children and how it should operate.”
David says anyone from age 16 can draft a will, however, the person drafting the will must be in good mental health to appreciate their actions.
In the case of being married in community of property, David says can you still choose to leave your spouse out of your will, but the 50% community of property portion will pass to your spouse before the assets are divided according to your will.
Although wills can be purchased in stores, David says if it is a complex will or estate it is always best to have a professional draft your will.
“If the one purchased is signed and dated and adhere with all necessary requirements, it can hold up in court,” he concludes.