Talking about a last will and testament sometimes feels like giving health or dental advice.
People listen to your advice and suggestions with the kind of guilty unease of someone who is listening to the dentist talk about the necessity to floss regularly. You know that the advice is important, but you feel like it is something you can worry about later.
But just imagine the implications on your spouse or living partner if you leave him or her behind with no will. Apart from dealing with the grief of having lost a beloved, the person has to deal with hordes of unexpected claims and requests from anyone and everyone that you owe money to or have done business with.
The implications can be even more dire. Consider a recent case of a couple who passed away in two separate incidents, only days apart. Without a will, the state decides what happens with their assets and, importantly, with their children.
If you pass away without a will, not only will the state handle your affairs, but your spouse may lose out on unclaimed insurances and benefits that he or she has no idea about. Leaving your final affairs to the state will also incur additional costs that could have been avoided by giving clear instructions in a will.
These should be kept up to date and should be revised at least once a year.
Apart from ensuring that your next of kin get the best possible assistance and all the assets due to them, creating and maintaining a will has the additional benefit of forcing you and your financial advisor to review your affairs and to make sure that it serves your best interests.
Reviewing your will before you leave on holiday, for instance, may give you new ideas as to how best to invest or spend your money or it may highlight some preferences or ideas that you had in the past and that you, in retrospect, may not agree with anymore.
While creating your will, you should also consider filling in an Estate Directory. This directory is a comprehensive catalogue of every part of your life, including items often not thought about. Think about any club memberships, special friendships and even social media accounts that would need to be notified or closed if you pass away.
Wouter Fourie / 26 February
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)