What happens to your investments when you die? Will they pass to your loved ones, as you would want? An uncomfortable topic to think about, but one that we all need to consider - especially if there are dependants involved.
Will Week, starting on 12 September, is a good time to take the first step in preparing a plan that provides for the financial needs of your loved ones. During the week, participating attorney firms across the country will help you draft a legally valid Will free of charge.
What happens when you die without a Will?
Dying without a Will puts the people you leave behind in a bind. Firstly, the court will step in and manage the dissolution of your estate. During this process your assets, including your investments, form part of your estate. While your estate is being wound up your loved ones will have no access to your money. Think about this. If you are the breadwinner for your dependants, what will they do in the months while your estate is being wound up? Could your family survive without any money from your estate for that long?
Secondly, you have no control over who will receive the benefit of your estate. The courts will decide this on your behalf. Dealing with the courts and grieving at the same time is a heavy burden to place on anyone.
Why is a Will important?
We often speak about the importance of having a financial plan and while anticipating how you will meet your goals during your life is important, you should also consider how your assets, including your investments, will be distributed when you pass away. This will help you create a holistic estate plan that covers all aspects of your finances, with your Will as the cornerstone.
Things to consider
- Ensure you use the services of a qualified professional (like one of the law firms during Will Week). A valid Will needs to subscribe to strict legal requirements, which could impact the validity of your Will if not followed. Your attorney, financial adviser and a reputable trust company can assist you with this process.
- Review your Will to ensure that it reflects your current wishes. A change in your personal circumstances, such as marriage, the birth of a child or divorce can have an impact on how you wish your assets to be distributed after you die.
- Ensure you nominate a legal guardian for your minor children. Having to think about who would take care of your minor children is uncomfortable but it is an important step in ensuring that your children will be taken care of by someone you trust.
- Tell someone you trust where your important documentation can be found, especially your Will.
- Estate duty is a form of tax payable on the value of your estate (such as property, investments and cash) after you die.
To get a free Will drafted during the week you will need your Identity Document, a list of your assets and you should put some thought into who will get what, who you would like to be the executor of your estate and, if you have children, who should become their legal guardian.
If you need help with the financial aspects of your estate plan you can use the services of an independent financial adviser.