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Has it ever happened to you? A loved one passes away unexpectedly and you break out in a cold sweat because you recall sorting that person's last will and testament out, but you can't remember where you put it?

Family members call you and assume you have the Will and ask you to send it to so-and-so, who is due to wind up the estate. Panic sets in as you frantically search for it.

I hope it hasn't happened to you, but unfortunately it does happen all too often.

So, how can you prevent such a nightmare scenario from unfolding?

I recommend that you keep the original Will in a lock-up safe or a safe-deposit box at least. A photocopy of a Will is not acceptable; the original must be filed with the Master of the High Court after the person passes away.

Sanlam Trust charges a nominal R 50.00 p.a. plus VAT to keep the Will in a fireproof safe. It is registered with a unique reference number so it can be easily located.

There are a number of benefits apart from the obvious one of safe-keeping. The Will is quality checked by Sanlam Trust. Any further amendments are done free of charge. You are entitled to a free ‘living will' and the testator/testatrix will automatically be entitled to a 5% discount on the executor's fees payable by the estate. So in all likelihood you will receive a lot more in return than the R50.00.

If you are above the age of 65 you don't have to pay the R50.00 at all, but you are still entitled to the benefits.

It's also a good idea to keep a copy of the Will and the letter from Sanlam confirming the filing of the original Will with Sanlam with your personal papers, so there can be no doubt as to its location and contents.

It is strongly recommended that everybody has a valid, well-drafted Will in place. The rules of intestate succession are complex and can result in acrimonious family disputes and court cases.

Contact your Sanlam accredited financial planner or Sanlam Trust for assistance. Alternatively, search on the Sanlam website for the ‘Online Will' drafting facility.

Article written by David Thomson, Senior Legal Adviser, Sanlam Trust



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