Why is a will important even though you’re a new parent?

Quite a few people associate drawing up a will with old age; a time when they may have possibly accumulated as many assets as they can. As a result, many young parents neglect to create a will early on because they feel that they don’t have enough assets yet and that they are not going to die anytime soon. However; realistically, old age is not the only cause of death. No one wants to think about their possible or impending death. An even worse thought, however, is leaving your loved ones; especially your children; without any assurance that they will inherit a fair share of your estate.

 

What is a Valid Will?

If you’ve watched a few movies, then you might have seen some people leave notes or recordings stating how they wish to have their estates divided. However, there are laws that govern what a valid will is, and it is possible for your will to be deemed invalid by a court of law. Therefore, it is important that you follow the regulations stipulated by the Wills Act. There are a few main rules that you need to follow. These include but are not limited to;

-Your signature needs to be at the end of every page of your will;

-You need two witnesses to sign the last page in each other’s presence,

– You need to have a commissioner of oaths certify that all the stipulations were met.

– You need to be competent to make a will; meaning you must be above the age of sixteen and you need to be mentally fit at the time of making the will.

– Your witnesses cannot be beneficiaries in your will because they will be disqualified.

– Your witnesses cannot be appointed as executors of the will.

The Will Act of 1953 is a short document that everyone should familiarise themselves with. https://www.gov.za/sites/default/files/gcis_document/201505/act-7-1953.pdf

 

What happens if you pass away before drawing up a valid will?

Should you pass away before drawing up a valid will; you will die “intestate”. That means your family will have to share all your assets equally according to a very stringent formula provided by the law. This sounds fair but it might not necessarily be what you want because you know your loved ones better. You probably want to have more control over what each person gets and the best way to do that is to state this clearly in a valid will. Furthermore, if your children are too young to administer the estate; you get to choose whether you want to leave your assets in a trust under the conditions of your choice or if you want to appoint a loved one as a usufruct. A usufruct is someone you will confer the right to use and maintain your assets for a limited amount of time. This is usually until your children can assume full ownership of your assets after satisfying the conditions of your will.

Although the law makes provisions for people who pass away without making a will, this law has limited protection because you don’t know how your estate will be divided. It is better to take control of your future and guarantee that your current assets will be protected regardless of when you pass away. You can update your will every few years when your assets increase or your situation changes. There are few legal steps to follow in order to keep it valid however it is possible.