Do I really need a Will?
"I have no plan on dying any time soon!"
"Well, everything will go to my wife anyway when I die, so it doesn't matter!"
"Oh yes, we do have a Will, we did one when we got married 30 years ago!"
"A Will? I don't have much, why would I need one?"
"We're sorted - the bank did one for us a year or two ago when we got our bond"
Believe it or not, these are commonly heard expressions, when people are asked if they would consider preparing a Will - or revising an existing Will.
Discussion of ones Will is often seen as an unpleasant, or slightly macabre activity, as if it presupposes that one is at death's door. The complexities of ones family life may make the discussion difficult. Perhaps you feel that your estate does not warrant a Will, as it is fairly small, or that, being married with children, you would rather let the law - whatever it is - take its course should you die.
The fact is, however, that having a valid, up-to-date, legally sound Will is vital, whatever ones age, family circumstances, or financial standing.
A Will drafted many years ago will probably not provide adequately for your current circumstances. Dying without a Will can mean that your estate must be distributed according to a formula prescribed by the Intestate Succession Act, normally to ones closest relatives. This formula may mean that people you would like to benefit, do not, and those that do, must share assets in a way that simply does not make sense - or even have to pay in money to "level the scales". The administration of your Estate may also be delayed.
Changes in the law and in the tax system, may mean that you, your Estate and your family, may be better served with a revised Will - in fact, it is always prudent to relook at your Will at least annually, to ensure that it still makes legal sense!
A Will may well be the most important document you will ever sign, and it needs a professional to draft it, to ensure that it not only expresses your wishes, but "covers all bases", makes legal sense - and critically, meets the legal formalities, so that it is valid and cannot be challenged! Attempting to draft your own Will is playing with fire!
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Have I had any children since I last executed a Will? Are they properly provided for in the event of my death? Is a trust provided for their inheritance, and guardians nominated? Or have these children, in their turn, grown up, married and had children of their own?
- Have people mentioned in the Will, died or otherwise moved out of my life?
- Do I mention assets in my previous Wills, which have since been disposed of?
- Did I draw my Will when I was young, before I had built up my Estate - has my Estate changed in such a way, that I should plan to ensure that my Estate and heirs are not burdened with a heavy tax bill? In other words, is my Estate plan and Will, tax efficient?
- Are the conditions in my Will practical or will my Executor be forced to sell assets or negotiate a complex redistribution of my assets, with my heirs?
- Do I want my Estate to be administered by experienced professionals, who offer personalised service at negotiable rates?
At Goldberg & de Villiers, we are able to offer clients a seamless, cost-efficient personalised service in this important field - from Estate planning, to preparing or revising your Will, to dealing with the intricacies of administering your Estate, as, or on behalf of your Executors.
Never before has the importance of revising ones Will regularly been so important. More than ever, the value of a cost-efficient, personalised service in Estate administration - as opposed to entrusting ones Estate to a faceless corporate, or an inexperienced administrator - has been proven.
We are proud to offer the services of our Estate Planning and Administration Department, headed by director Nicholas Mitchell, who has more than ten years' experience specialising in this field of law, as well as specialist qualification in Deceased Estates Practice. The Department benefits from operating in a firm with an experienced team of attorneys and paralegals, whose expertise is at the department's disposal. Our clients can benefit from the specialised knowledge of our 16 professionals in the various fields. We will consult with you at our comfortable offices, conveniently located in the historic heart of Port Elizabeth, or at your home or office, as you prefer - and navigate with you these important and inescapable issues.
Very importantly, we can offer the necessary flexibility on fees, so you can have peace of mind when planning your future.
12-16 September 2016 sees National Wills Week, which is an initiative of the Law Society, in which our firm is participating. Nicholas, as a participating attorney, will this week consult with you, and prepare a simple Will for you, at no cost. Make a booking today.
It will be our pleasure to do your business!
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