Article courtesy of Sanlam Life Insurance Company Limited
We have no control over when we pass away,” says Advocate Sankie Morata, Chief Executive, Sanlam Fiduciary Services. “It can happen tomorrow, or it could happen decades from now. And now more than ever, as we continue to fight the pandemic, things are very uncertain, so ensuring that you’re covered in the event of tragedy is of utmost importance. Without a will in place, you have little or no control in what happens to your estate in the event of passing away.”
A little over a year ago, the Master of the High Court estimated that as many as 70% of working class folks will have had no will in place in the event of their death. This number is very high, and shows the vulnerability of many people. The consequences of passing away without a will? In most parts of the world, not having a valid will in place could result in the estate (or rather, what you own) being administered under Intestate Succession. Essentially, this means that whatever you own will be distributed among your surviving spouse, or your children, parents, siblings or other relatives.
Why having a will is important
In the event of dying without a will, the law makes provision for the surviving relatives. However, this may not be in line with how you would like to see your estate divided. For instance, should you die without having a spouse or children, the absence of a will means that your estate will be divided among your other relatives, including your parents, uncles or aunts. In some countries, should you have no living relatives, the estate will be placed into the Guardians Fund for a period of 30 years.
“Unlike years gone by, we’re seeing a greater number of deaths throughout the year, as a result of the pandemic. In the past, fatalities were often concentrated around public holidays. Now we have to take COVID-19 into consideration, and we’re witnessing a large number of deaths spread out over time,” says Sankie.
Having a valid will in place means that you are empowered by the knowledge that your estate will be divided according to your wishes, and not according to government guidelines, by default. That means that you can look after your children, friends and charitable causes in a way that feels comfortable to you. Speak to a trusted adviser who can help ensure that your wishes are carried out once you pass away.
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