one day im gone importance drafting last testament protect family

Drafting a last will and testament should be a priority.

A couple of days into 2018 and you’ve probably made your new year’s resolutions. You have set your goals and reevaluated what you want to change in your life. Whether you will accomplish it or not, it is all up to you. But thinking of your new year’s goals,have you prioritised planning for the day when you will die by drafting your last will and testament.

Is this a priority for 2018?

There is never a convenient time to think of what will happen the day when you leave this earth.  It is a grim subject and drafting this document is not a very pleasant exercise.

However, death is inevitable and it will skip no one. It does not classify you by status, your health or wealth. The scariest part of it is – we never know when it will happen.

Therefore it is important that we get our documentation in order. It is a common misconception that drafting a will is for the rich, those who own property, are married and have children.

This is not true. If you are older than 16 years, have a bank account, own a savings policy or just a car – you need to draft a will.

When it became a priority for us to draft a last will and testament

It was January 2008, when I watched the news and learnt that a family of four was in a tragic motor vehicle accident, leaving a 5 year old boy as the sole survivor. Although those who died were unknown to me; I could not stop thinking about that little boy.

As an orphan, what will happen to him? Did his parents make provision for who will take care of him before they passed? These were thoughts that ran through my mind.

My husband and I never gave planning for the day we die much thought. Until that tragic day. Mortality is a subject that we often tried to avoid.

Our eldest daughter was only 2 at the time. A minor child and we had no will to protect her. This made me feel uneasy. The scenario of that fatal accident could pretty much have been my family. Leaving my daughter orphaned.

Discussing it with my husband, he agreed that it was a matter of urgency that we draft our will. This was something that we could no longer procrastinate on. No longer was this a consideration but it became a priority.  It was imperative not because we had assets but we had the most valued gift, our daughter.

We made an appointment with our financial advisor and drafted our will. Beneficiaries, distribution of assets and most important naming our guardians (we chose two). When our second daughter was born, we reviewed our will and made changes to it.

This gave us peace of mind that should anything happen, we legally documented our wishes.

The importance of drafting a last will and testament

Whether you a parent or not, it is important to draft a will especially if you have assets no matter how little, investments and policies. If you don’t have a will in place you will die intestate. This means the court will decide who will be the beneficiaries of your assets in accordance to the Interstate Succession Act. The court might not consider the needs of your family. Freezing all assets and money in your estate. This is until the court’s final decision on who will benefit. Leaving your family in financial difficulty.

Not naming a guardian in your will, allows the court to make a decision who to appoint as your minor child or children’s guardian. This might not be the person who you wished to raise your child or children when you die. Appointing a guardian(s) who you know will take on the responsibility to care for you child or children and their finances, is important.

Things to include and consider when drafting a last will and testament
  • Before drafting your last will and testament, it is important to list all your assets, investments, policies and liquidity.
  • You can draft your own will, however it is important to seek advice from your lawyer or a financial advisor who has knowledge of the legalities. These legalities include estate duty fees and Capital Gain Tax.
  • Include the full names and identity number of your spouse.
  • Include the type of marriage.
  • Have certified copies of the Ante-nuptial contracts.
  • If you are divorce have a copy of the Decree of Divorce and settlement agreement.
  • Include the full names and identity numbers of all children including adopted, stepchildren and grandchildren.
  • Name your beneficiaries.
  • Decide who will receive what. When you leave money, it is best to list percentages and not actual amounts.
  • Appointing an executor (this can be a person who you trust and that can take on the responsible. You can also appoint a trust company to be the executor of your estate). Just bear in mind that the person that you appoint as executor must be able to deal with the administration of the estate. This include dealing with the Masters Office, SARS, Banks, Insurance companies and creditors.
  • Appoint a guardian who you trust to oversee finances and who can take on the responsibility to care of your minor child or children. You can also appoint two guardians, one to raise your child or children and the other to oversee the finances that will provide for them. If you appoint two guardians make sure they will be able to work together for the sake of the child or children.
  • Include the name and contact details of the guardian(s).
  • Appoint a Trust if you have any consent conditions set out in your will indicating when inheritance will become available.
  • Your last will and testament should be straightforward, clear and concise and the wording correct to meet certain legal requirements. This is to avoid any misunderstandings and ambiguity.
  • The validity of your last will and testament depends on whether it is signed and dated  by yourself and two witnesses. Each page should be initialed. The witnesses can be 14 years or older and should not  be beneficiaries listed in your will.
  • It is best to keep a copy of the signed last will and testament which is clearly marked as “copy” and file it in a safe place. The original should be kept with the lawyer, trust company or bank. Inform your executor where your original last will and testament is kept.

Read more on the legal requirements and what to include in your last will and testament.

Make this a priority for 2018 and start drafting your last will and testament today.


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34 comments on “One day, when I’m gone: The importance of drafting a last will and testament to protect your family”

    • I think it is something that most consider doing but never get to it. It is one of the things that is so important but are not seen as a priority. Hoping that you will start drafting yours soon. Thanks for reading my post.#globalblogging

  1. It really is so incredibly important especially once you have children. The process of wrapping up an estate without a will can drag on forever and the little ones suffer terribly when that happens. If I remember correctly most banks can also help you setup your last will and testament, so even if you don’t have access to a financial adviser the service is free. Coming to visit from a#lekkerlinky

    • Yes banks can also help you draft a will. Thanks for reading my post as this is so vitally important and we often take it for granted that our assets will just automatically be left to our next of kin and family members#lekkerlinky

    • This is so important and a lot of people put it off until it is too late. Thanks for reading my post.#TwinklyTuesday

    • So true and I think that is why people put it off as it is not the most pleasant subject to talk about, in saying that it is the most important thing you can do for those you are leaving behind.#Lekkerlinky

  2. Great comprehensive post. I was thinking of writing something similar but less in detail so if you don’t mind, I’m going to remember this for when I write that post and link back to this for more detail on this subject.
    #lekkerlinky

    • Hi Carly – I don’t mind at all. That is what blogging is about – to inspire others and to share opinions and ideas for others to branch out on.#Lekkerlinky

  3. This is something that we desperately need to do, thank you for giving me another nudge. You are so right, it’s not about assets but, for us, Baby Lighty, and for you your daughter. Thank you for sharing this important message with #DreamTeam.

  4. Its not a nice thing to have to consider and I think many people put it off because that means thinking of their own mortality but it really is so important. Having worked in Solicitors offices for many years I’ve seen what happens when wills aren’t made, it isn’t pleasant. Helpful post, thanks for linking up #twinklytuesday

    • In need a very grim subject and often avoided. In order to protect your family, it needs to be done.#TwinklyTuesday

  5. I know this is something I need to do, but I’ve always put it off, figuring that I don’t really have any assets anyway. However, I do have a young daughter, so this is incredible important. #fortheloveofBLOG

    • Even if you don’t have any assets – you have a daughter and you need to make plans to leave her in someone’s care that you trust for the day that you will no longer be around.#fortheloveofBLOG

  6. I think this is critical for parents of children. I cannot imagine a worse thing than having children in limbo if something happens to their parents. A friend of ours lost her mom when we were kids and dad was deployed in the Navy. For the 4 weeks it took to get him back home, she had to live in foster care. They had no will and there was no family who could care for a young child, and they couldn’t just allow a family friend to watch her. It was so scary for her. #GlobalBlogging

    • That is a parent’s worse nightmare having your child live with total strangers. Hope that all worked out in the end as administration without a will can be time consuming.#Globalblogging

  7. Hubby and I sorted our wills out when we bought our house a few years ago. It is only a very simple one, and I imagine we will add more detail as we get older and have more assets to divide out, but I do feel glad that there is something in place and that my girls have official named guardians should anything happen to us. Thanks for raising awareness of this issue that is important to all of us #blogcrush

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