Important tips for setting up a will

Death can change your loved ones’ life instantly. This is why we urge everyone to set up a will in order to ensure that your family is taken care of according to your wishes. A will provides a sort of final word to the dead. Although this may seem harsh, should you die without one, no one will be able to decide who gets what and your wishes, even though voiced earlier, will not be taken into account.

To spare your family the drama and to ensure your wishes are executed, here are a few tips to keep in mind when setting up your will.

Keep your will as simple and straightforward as possible. It doesn’t have to be poetic or romantic, state who inherits what in a clear and simple manner. There should be no room for doubts.

Should circumstances force you to write a more complicated will, be sure to get expert help.

If you have minor children, nominate a guardian in your will.

We would advise against describing funeral arrangements in your will.

Make sure the requests in your will is reasonable. Your loved ones should be able to execute your wishes. Don’t try to make outrageous demands.

When it comes to the distribution of your assets, you should be practical. Think this through and come up with a solution that is both equal and fair to everyone involved.

Read through your will thoroughly and think about the consequences of your will, how your choices and demands affect your loved ones.

We wouldn’t advise you draw up your own will to begin with, unless you have experience in this matter. Rather have an expert assist you.

Some FAQs answered

Do I need a lawyer to assist me in preparing my will?

A lawyer is not necessary when preparing your will although they can provide useful advise and assistance on estate-planning strategies. As long as your will meets the legal requirements of your state, it is valid whether you wrote it yourself or someone helped you.

Should my spouse and I have separate wills?

Many estate planners across the board usually advise against joint wills while some states don’t even recognise them. The odds are you and your spouse won’t die at the same time thus separate wills make better sense. Although your wills might look similar, separate wills will allow each spouse to address issues such as ex-spouses and so forth.

How do I leave specific bequests to specific heirs?

You simply need only state which person gets specific property in your will. You can create another document called a letter of instruction that you can keep with your will. In this letter you can go into more details about which item goes to whom. You can also include specifics about the property or items such as account numbers, passwords etc.

Where should my will be kept?

A probate requires your original will before it can process your estate in most cases. So you need to keep the document as safe as possible but accessible. You are welcome to put the will in a bank safe deposit box which only you have access to or in a waterproof and fireproof safe in your house.

Do I need to update my will?

This is entirely up to you. You may choose to update it regularly or keep it as is. The only version of your will that matters is the most current valid one in existence. You need to keep pivotal moments in your life in mind for example your kids might not need guardians named in the will after they’re adults thus it would make sense to update your will on a regular basis.

Can anyone contest my will?

A beneficiary who feels offended or cheated by the terms of the will can choose to contest it. The will can be contested by a number of reasons some of which includes:

  • It wasn’t properly witnessed
  • You were incompetend when you signed it
  • Or the will was a result of fraud or coercion.

We will assist you in setting up your will properly so you can live a life knowing your family will be provided for. Contact us on 012 654 0107 or send an email to fin@senatorcounsellors.co.za for assistance. 

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