Most of us do not like considering that we might pass on and thus leave our loved ones – but, if we care about our loved ones, we ought to always be doing what we can to make sure we do right by them. This is why it is necessary to consider wills, before it is too late and before we put them into a serious blunder.
The issue is that too many think a will is just a document you sign, with some statements about who gets what. But it is not so simple.
For example, consider you put your spouse as a beneficiary, but then they sign the will as a witness; or perhaps, you are a beneficiary and you write the will on behalf of a parent, who is struggling. Both of these would then disqualify you as a beneficiary.
Naturally, there have been cases where this has occurred. As Margaret King in Personal Finance notes:
“In one case, a woman’s sister-in-law had written out her will on her instructions. Following her death, Nelson applied to court to have the sister-in-law and her husband (the deceased’s brother) declared competent to receive a benefit, on the basis that the deceased’s sister-in-law and her husband did not defraud or unduly influence the deceased in the execution of her will.
“The application was successful, Nelson says, but the beneficiaries’ inheritance was reduced by the cost of the High Court application, not to mention the delay in the administration process.”
The best way for us to make sure we are dealing properly with the law is to have legal advice and representation from professionals. This also means, should anything change, after or during the drawing up of the will, we will still be able to have one that is recognised.
DIY wills are almost always discouraged due to the complications that can arise. Depending on which bank or services you use, wills can be free.
The Fiduciary Institute of South Africa (Fisa) says:
“Free or not, the most important factor is that you ensure you actually get a will executed, and that it covers your particular circumstances and gives effect to your wishes.”
Again, the best way to do this is with proper legal representation and advice. It is always best to provide the necessary knowledge, and not complicate an already difficult situation.