Dwelling on your mortality is never a fun way to pass the time, but if you have a family, chances are you’ll want to ensure that they’re well taken care of after you pass away. The best way to do this, of course, is through a will.
A will can ensure that your loved ones receive the assets that you want them to, rather than government trustees deciding who should get what and how much. But crafting a will is a complicated process, as simple mistakes can render it invalid or result in a loved one missing out financially. So, to avoid this happening and to secure your family’s financial future, remember these 10 basic rules:
Review your will every year to ensure it represents the most current state of your assets.
Your will must be in writing. This means it can be written by hand, typed or printed, but oral wills are not valid.
Include a residuary (‘leftovers’) clause to cover property that you don’t specifically mention in your will.
Plan a number of ‘what if’ scenarios and contingency plans with an attorney to protect your loved ones in any eventuality.
Use percentages (rather than rand amounts) so those who inherit from you still receive the same proportion of wealth, even if your estate’s worth fluctuates.
Give your attorney or trusted friend all the details about your finances. If not, your family may struggle to lay claim to assets you intended them to receive.
Sign your will in the presence of two witnesses. They must be 14 years old or older, of sound mind and they cannot be people who will benefit from your will.
Every page of the will must be signed directly under the last words of the page. This is to prevent anyone else from adding something later.
Any changes must be made in the presence of witnesses.
Store your will in a place your loved ones can easily locate, and give a copy to your executor (the person who will carry out your wishes) and another copy to a trusted friend or family member.