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Leaving a legacy is about a lot more than you may think.

It has little to do with how much money you have or may leave behind when you pass away. Leaving a legacy for your loved ones, by means of a last will and testament, is really an act of love and caring. Without one, your last wishes may end up as a guessing game and a source of heartache and frustration.

David Thomson, Senior Legal Adviser: Sanlam Trust, says that by leaving a will, you get to choose who inherits what, who winds up your estate and who looks after your minor children – or even your pets. “Also remember that it costs money to carry out a will, so apart from drawing one up, you should also make sure there is enough money in your bank account – or from your life insurance policies – to settle outstanding debt, taxes, funeral costs and estate expenses.”

An executor such as Sanlam Trust can deal with the instructions of a will efficiently and minimise any possible confusion. “It also helps if your family is aware of where your original will is kept, what your funeral preferences are, how things will be paid, and who to contact at your place of employment in the event of your death.”

“It also helps if your family is aware of where your original will is kept, what your funeral preferences are, how things will be paid, and who to contact at your place of employment in the event of your death,” says David Thomson, Senior Legal Adviser: Sanlam Trust.

Here are seven non-negotiables when it comes to drafting a will:

  1. Make sure your will is drawn up by a professional, like a financial planner, or an organisation such as Sanlam Trust
  2. Appoint an executor to take charge of winding up your affairs. This person will, among other things, be responsible for reporting your death to the High Court, collecting all your assets, closing bank accounts, and opening an estate bank account, so ensure that you appoint someone capable.
  3. Be clear as to who should get what – from your immediate heirs to charitable organisations
  4. You may need to nominate a trustee (or trustees) to look after your minor children should you have any
  5. You will need to select two witnesses, older than 14 years old, who are of sound mind and who are not beneficiaries in your will to initial each page of your will in your presence, and to sign on the last page (where your signature will also appear)
  6. The original signed will must be kept in a safe place as this is the only document that will be accepted by the master of the High Court on your passing
  7. Store your will safely. Some trust companies will keep their clients’ documents in their fireproof vaults for a small annual fee. Ensure your nearest family or your financial planner knows where the original document is kept.

“Ensure you leave a legacy of the person you were and how you lived. Leaving a will could be the legacy you leave behind to ensure your estate, no matter how big or small, benefits the loved ones you leave behind,” says Thomson.

 

 

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