Most people wait until they are old to make a will. My advice is if you are employed and/or you own any assets the first thing you do is to make a will.
Remember, it does not mean you are going to die once you make a will.
Let us look herein under the circumstances whereby you die without a will.
If you die without a will, an administrator will have to be appointed to administer your estate which will be distributed according to the laws of intestate succession. As such, your assets may not be distributed as you would have wished. It also means that the process will be delayed and that there will be additional expense and frustration which most people would want to inflict on their loved ones during a time of loss.
Marriage and property
Depending on the type of your marriage. You will have to put the following information in mind when drafting your will.
Its important to consider the nature of your relationship with your ‘significant other’. If you are married in community of property, you only own half of all assets registered in your name and that of your spouse. Your spouse therefore still remains a one half share owner of any fixed property you may want to bequeath to a third party which could potentially present difficulties.
If you are marrieds in terms of the accrual regime, the calculation to determine which spouse has a claim against the other to equalise the growth of the respective estates only occurs at death. Your spouse may therefore have a substantial claim against your estate necessitating the sale to the of assets you had not intended to be sold.
Alongside your Will, you should also prepare the following in relation to any immovable property you may own:
According to Intestate Succession Act, 1987, your estate will be distributed as follows::
In case of a person being unable to sign a document for whatever reason, there are certain regulations which should be observe d to ensure the validity of the document. Someone can be requested to sign it on your behalf or you can sign it by making a mark (such as thumb print or cross).
Should you make the mark or someone sign it on your behalf, the document must adhere to the following requirements:
A living will enables you to state specific medical wishes if you are alive, but unable to communicate with them. Artificial life support in the case of a comma or terminal illness is an issue often discussed in such a document. Preferences regarding administering of pain medication, artificial nutrition and other treatments can be dictated in this document.
The Terry Shaivo case shows what can happen if this document is not in place. The legal battle between her husband, family and state of Florida lasted for years before she was granted her wish and taken off life support.
With this type of power of attorney, you give someone else the power to make health decisions on your behalf. These decisions regarding serious health and emotional crises will be made based on instructions which you have given to your power of attorney beforehand. Sometimes a living will is combined with a health care power of attorney, because both of these can be revoked, i.e it can be cancelled at any time by destroying it, communicating your wishes to your doctor, writing a letter regarding the cancellation or by creating a new living will and health care power of attorney, indicating that the new will revokes all the previous ones.
Every family’s legal needs are different, so perhaps you should take the first step in being prepared for the worst. Remember that every time your family composition changes, like when a child is born, you need to adapt your will to include them. Start the process and be prepared.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions or for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions accepted (E&OE)