How to get your affairs in order

No one can foresee when one is likely to die. Upon death, it assists your family and loved ones greatly if you have your affairs in order.

Placing your affairs in order includes: -

1. Having made provision for payment of your funeral costs;

2. Having a will;

3. Appointing beneficiaries on your insurance policies, where possible.

You are well advised to consult with an Attorney to have your will drawn, and to consult with your insurance broker in respect of your insurance policies.

The most important aspects to consider when preparing your will are as follows: -

THE APPOINTMENT OF AN EXECUTOR

The executor administers your estate, by collecting any assets owned by you in your lifetime into your estate, settling any liabilities you may have had in your lifetime, and distributing your assets in accordance with your instructions as set out in your will.

THE APPOINTMENT OF A TRUSTEE

It is wise to make provision for a testamentary trust (that is, a trust created in your will) in the event that there is any possibility that a minor child may inherit monies from you. A minor child is a child under the age of 18 years.

If you do not create a testamentary trust in your will, and a minor child inherits from you, such minor child’s inheritance will be paid into the Guardian’s Fund until the minor child reaches the age of 18. The funds may be accessed by the minor child’s guardian from the Guardian’s Fund but the process is complicated and takes time. It also takes time for the Guardian’s Fund to release the monies to the minor child once the minor child attains majority.

The added advantage of a testamentary trust is that you can determine in your will at what age the monies should be paid to the minor child. For example you may stipulate that the minor child should only receive his/her monies at the age of 21 or 25 although the age of majority is 18.

Until the testamentary trust terminates, the trustee you name in your will may be authorised to look after the money for the minor child, and the trustee may be directed to utilise the monies for the minor child’s maintenance, support and education.

THE APPOINTMENT OF A GUARDIAN

If you do not appoint a guardian to your minor child in your will, the only way this can be rectified after your death is by way of application to Court. This is a costly and time consuming process. In addition, you have no say in such an event as to who the guardian of your minor child should be.

It is far more advisable to ensure that you appoint a guardian to your minor child in your will.

THE DISTRIBUTION OF YOUR ASSETS

In your will you instruct your executor as to how your assets are to be distributed. If you die without a will there is an act, the Intestate Succession Act, which dictates how an estate must be distributed where a person dies without a will.

DO NOT DELAY! If you do not have your affairs in order take immediate steps to place them in order. We are very happy to be of assistance to you, and you are invited to contact Margaret McCullough for assistance on 033 845 9700.

  • Added 13 December 2010

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