Perhaps the first question to be answered is when do I need one?
Every person 16 years and older (who is competent) may make a will.
As a general rule I advise that a person who (a) has assets and/or (b) has dependants, should make a will.
A will is the only certain way of ensuring that your wishes are carried out after your death, and that the people you wish to benefit, in fact do so. Vague lists and verbal promises and undertakings – nothing is as rock solid as a will.
- South African law recognises freedom of testation, so you are free to direct who is to benefit from your estate.
- Setting up structures to take care of vulnerable heirs (be they minor children, elderly parents or heirs with disabilities).
- You appoint an executor of your choice
- You appoint guardians of your choice (subject to certain provisos)
- The ability to benefit a charity close to your heart, or, for example, a school, university or religious organisation through a special bequest.
Overall, a will provides clear guidance to one’s family at a very difficult and stressful time.