Your last will and testament: it’s a matter of urgency

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Death is inevitable… not to be a downer! But unfortunately this is a thought that requires attention, writes LP Baartman Attorneys.

When grieving the death of a family member, the last thing we want plaguing our thoughts is how the deceased’s possessions are going to be dispersed. Should the unthinkable happen to you, surely you would not want to leave your loved ones in such a position?

Failing to leave a valid will and testament will result in your assets being shared according to the Intestate Succession Act. In other words, the legislature will effectively determine how your estate is to be dealt with to the exclusion of any personal wishes you may have had. On top of that, any input from your relatives will be largely guess work on your behalf and this can only add to the stress of the undesirable circumstances.

Furthermore, without a valid will you will be deprived of:

• the choice as to who will deal with your estate;
• how your funeral will be conducted;
• and whether unrelated friends or charities will benefit.

And suppose death comes a ‘knocking when you still have young children dependant on you? Not to worry, as a will allows you the opportunity to determine how finances are to be controlled until a future time when your kids are old enough to take responsibility for it themselves.

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The positives of drafting a will immensely outweigh the effort that it requires.

There is never a better time than right now to get your affairs in order. Why not make a start this weekend!

Here are some helpful tips to see that you will has validity:

• Firstly, ensure that your will is in writing and that you sign each page as well as at the very end of it. Also when signing it, have two people present who are both older than 14 years and competent to sign the last page as witnesses. Bear in mind that your witnesses cannot be persons who will be inheriting something from you, and you should always note the date on a legal document.

• Secondly, all this signing ought to be done in the presence of a Commissioner of Oaths (such as your attorney, who can check the contents of the will at the same time) and he or she will thereafter certify the will as valid.

And presto! You will have created an invaluable legal document.

Remember to try not to view the making of a will as a tragic anticipation of death; but rather as a way of showing foresight and thoughtfulness towards the ones you love.

Look out for a legal related article every Monday morning at 11:00. If you have any questions, or would want to see an article on a matter that leave you with questions, get in touch with us on legalstuff@digitnews.co.za. We might use it for our next article.

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