25 October 2023
“There is a mistaken belief that wills are only necessary for people with lots of assets. If you have a minor child (under 18 years), pets, a car or house, savings or investments of any size, cryptocurrency, photos or music in the cloud, or sentimental items such as jewellery or art – even if they are not very valuable – then you need a will,” says Mabule. A recent Sanlam survey of digitally active, working South Africans found that 98% of people had one or more of these assets, but 45% don't have a will.
If one considers the full population, about 80% of South Africans don’t have a will. “Many see it as a complex and expensive process, but it isn’t. The process of drafting a will is always the same, but there are subtle nuances to consider, depending on your unique family structure. It’s also vital to keep your will current, changing it whenever there’s a major life event, like marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, the death of a beneficiary, or a change in financial circumstances,” explains Mabule.
A valid will needs to be in writing and signed in front of and by two competent witnesses who do not stand to inherit from the estate. Everyone can exercise freedom of testation – decide who inherits what from their estate – as long as their wishes are ethical and legal. Mabule says, “You can download templates online. Sanlam has a selection of
free will templates, tailored to suit specific family structures.”
Mabule stresses the necessity of working with a professional such as a lawyer, wills consultant or financial adviser if your needs are more complex, “It’s easy to forget something important, such as the nomination of an executor or guardian. They will ensure your wishes are comprehensively covered and can help with more complex requests, such as setting up a testamentary trust for minors.”
Sanlam Trust found that over
40% of the deceased estates it administers have insufficient cash to cover all debts, costs, cash bequests and taxes payable during one’s lifetime, and income tax, capital gains tax and estate duty upon death. This can have serious consequences for loved ones left behind. Planning for these costs through a policy such as the Sanlam Legacy Plan, can alleviate these extra financial stresses.
22% of survey respondents belong to this group and should consider the following.
14% of respondents didn’t have children, but they had fur kids. Leaving everything to a beloved pet is complicated. If you want to make provision for a fur kid, you need to consider:
Providing for multiple partners is complex and needs to be rigorously planned for.
Mabule concludes, “A will is the best way to ensure your final wishes are known and your family is fairly provided for. Work with a financial adviser, wills consultant or lawyer to plan your estate holistically and comprehensively so you can live confidently knowing that your affairs will be properly managed, and your beneficiaries taken care of.”