Why You Need a Will

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A will is a legal document that stipulates how your estate should be managed, who should receive your assets and how they should receive these assets in the event of your death.

According to the South African Wills Act (No.7 of 1953) a will refers to any writing by a person whereby they dispose of property or any part thereof after their death. According to the Act a will can be drafted by any person of the age of sixteen years or older, unless mentally incapable of understanding the consequences of such a document.

The following terminology should be understood for the purposes of this article:

  • Estate – Assets and liabilities owned by the deceased at their date of death.
  • Executor – Person responsible for the winding up of the estate and distribution of the deceased’s assets.
  • Heir – Individual that inherits part or whole of the deceased’s estate.
  • Testator – A male who has made a will.
  • Testatrix – A female who has made a will. 

In the event of your dying without a valid will in place your estate would be dealt with in terms of Intestate Succession. Intestate Succession would essentially distribute your assets to your closest family members in the event of your death. These family members would then also be responsible for nominating an executor to wind up your estate.

Based on this information the following reasons for having an up-to-date and valid will in place are already evident:

  • It speeds up the administration of your estate.
  • Allows you to choose the executor of your estate.
  • Allows you to nominate heirs to your estate. 

Additional reasons for having an up-to-date and valid will:

  • Minor children’s inheritances can be administered according to your wishes, rather than being transferred to the Guardian’s Fund.
  • You could negotiate the executors’ fees payable depending on your estate. 

Costs involved with wills:

All prices include VAT. Prices correct as of February 2012 and are subject to change.

Annual storage fee

These fees can range from R0 – R250 depending on whether the institution storing your will is appointed as the executor to your estate.

Drafting fee

The drafting of wills can vary in costs from R0 – R2500+ depending on the size and complexity of your estate, as well as whether the institution is appointed as the executor to the estate.

Executors fees

The standard fee levied by executors on a deceased’s estate is 3.99% (including VAT) on the  gross asset value of the estate, however there is room for negotiation depending on the executor and value of the estate.

Will review

These fees can range from R0 – R250 depending on whether the institution storing your will is appointed as the executor to your estate.

Important life events at which your will should be reviewed:

  • Changes in your financial situation
  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Birth of a child
  • After changes in legislation that could affect your estate 

How should a will be signed:

  • Both the Testator or Testatrix and two witnesses should sign on each page of the will. The witnesses must be older than 14 and able to give evidence in court.
  • The place and date of signing must be noted at the end of the document.
  • Witnesses should be people who have no interest in the will and their signatures merely acknowledge that they saw the Testator or Testatrix sign. The content of the will does not have to be disclosed to them. 

According to legislation individuals can draft their own wills, but this is not recommended as your intentions could be misinterpreted in the event of incorrect language use or instructions and your wishes may not be carried out as intended. It’s therefore of the utmost importance to seek expert and professional advice in order to have your will drafted or reviewed if you are not capable of doing so yourself.

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For all your financial planning and consulting requirements email Raul Jorge.

Sources:

Benater Attorneys. (2011). Can I Write My Own Will Without an Attorney? Last accessed 1st August 2012.
Botha, M. et al., (2012).
The South African Financial Planning Handbook 2012. Durban: LexisNexis. 792-798.
Margarete King. (2012). How much do wills cost? Last accessed 2nd August 2012.

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About Author

Raul Jorge is a CFP® professional at PSG. He specialises in estate, investment, retirement and risk planning. Prior to joining PSG, Raul completed his BSc (Honours) in Business Administration through the University of Wales and more recently completed his Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning through the University of Stellenbosch.

  • Christell

    Wow, really great informative article, thank you Raul. But i would like to know, if you for example draft your Will on your Internet Banking like with FNB, will that also be valid without signature? I have not tried it but i cant seem to know if an online will can be be valid without a signature, or does a sort of opt in button work as a digital signature?

  • Hi Christell.
    Thanks for the comment. We have confirmed with FNB trust services that should you set up a will online you will need to print out the will after you have completed the process and then sign it along with two witnesses (not family members). Thereafter a courier service will arrange to pick up the will. Should you have further enquiries regarding FNB Wills and estate planning please check out the following link: https://www.fnb.co.za/estate-planning/drafting-wills-and-estate-planning.html.
    You can also use the contact line 0860 102 763.

    • Christell

      Jeez thank you moneysmart, you guys have some serious informative content, you even know FNB’s service better then they can explain it on their site, within a glimpse of couse. I will ake effor to contact Raul, seems like he is the right guy to get my estate set up. Please write more helpfull content, im sharing this with my friends at work.