You only get one chance at life, which makes what you do while you are living matter more than anything. Having a will in place is one of those safety nets that we all need but tend to overlook.
Not only does it ensure that you don’t have strangers doing what they want with your things, but it also ensures that your wealth and assets are given to the people you love. In celebration of national wills week this week, we have put together a list on how to create a will that is legally recognised.
It must comply with the Wills Act of 1953
Drafting a will on your own is possible, but the process of having it legally recognised is another thing altogether. South Africans that are looking for ways to make their will legal need to ensure that it complies with the Wills Act 7 of 1953.
The Wills Act 7 of 1953 basically requires that you are:
Competent to draft a will. This means you need to be 16 years or older and understand what you are doing. It will not be legalised if the person who has drafted the will has a mental incapacity to understand what a will is and how it affects them.
You cannot be a beneficiary. If you are drafting the will by hand or electronically, you cannot list yourself as a beneficiary. Even if you have someone drafting the will on your behalf, they cannot list themselves as a beneficiary.
All documents need to be signed. This is to make the documents valid. The will needs to be signed by the testator (Person who is creating the will), and two other witnesses who are present at the time. In a situation where a testator is disabled or has suffered a stroke, they can sign using their fingerprint. The two witnesses need to be at least 14 years or older to sign.
Date your will accordingly. Although this is not a legally binding requirement, it can make it easier to keep track of if you have more than one will in place.
Appoint an executor
An executor will play a vital role when it comes to making sure that your will is followed to the ‘T’. This is a person that you choose to keep your will on your behalf. For example, you can get your will legally drafted at MiWayLife and kept for you. When you pass on MiWayLife will carry out the instructions that you have placed in your will.
You also have the option of approaching a bank, lawyer, a close family member or friend to handle your will. Just remember that there is a fee that you will need to pay to keep your will active and updated. An executor will ensure that any debt you might have is handled and they will also invest on your behalf if you have stated so in your will.
In a situation where you are unable to choose an executor and pass on, the court will appoint a family member to play the role of an executor. Therefore, it's vital to choose someone you trust and know will respect your final wishes.
Create a one-stop folder
The last thing that you want is having any assets or investments floating around with no one to claim them because no one knows about them. Creating a file that keeps all the documents for any investments, assets or contact details can make it easier for your loved ones. You can also elaborate in terms of who you want to have certain assets or investments. Remember to keep this in a safe place.
Always remember to keep your will updated every 5 years, especially if you have had major life changes. Also, create a budget that factor in the executor fees that comes with it.