Having a valid Will is very important, however the question often asked is how often should one be reviewing and updating their drafted and signed Will? This is especially important to highlight when one considers that less than 28% of Wills have been executed in the last 5 years.
“We are evolving into different life stages and change is inevitable which is why it is important to regularly update your Will to suit your every life stage. At the very least one should have a personal finance day on a quarterly or annual basis in order to track the progress of their financial planning goals and also to review their Will to ensure that it reflects your wishes as well as ensuring that you are comfortable with the chosen executor and testamentary trust trustees,” says Ester Ochse, Product Head at FNB Integrated Advice.
Carin Meyer, Product Head, Wills and Deceased Banking, FNB Fiduciary adds that, “The first and most important step is to have a valid Will that reflects your current life stage. This should be updated on an ongoing basis and is a good start to help you have a peace of mind.
“It’s important to look at your lifestyle and compile a personal inventory which should include more than just a list of all your assets, liabilities, and bank accounts. Include a comprehensive guide that can be shared with your loved ones. Your ‘personal inventory’ can include everything from your assets, cars, property and financial holdings to insurances, medical aid details, foreign assets, and your social media presence. Completing this document will also highlight areas you may want to address in your Will and to also keep it relevant to your life stages.”
Ochse reflects on some important life stages that need to prompt people to draft or update their Will:
A home will be the single biggest purchase that most people will make in their lifetime. Making a provision for this is in a Will gives certainty on who will get this asset and ensure that there is continuity in the lives of their children.
Another consideration here is to have sufficient life cover in place to cover any debt in the estate. There are some practical nuances that one needs to consider, such as too many people inheriting a single asset, but it is still important to have a signed Will in place to govern the asset.
Becoming a parent
When one has a child, either through birth or adoption, it is exceptionally important to either draft or update a will. This will ensure that you have a guardian for the child so that they can take care of them should you pass on.
A guardian should look after the child’s physical, emotional, psychological and financial needs. Also important is to set up a testamentary trust for the minor child, as this will ensure that any inheritance that the child may receive is looked after and protected. It will be a good idea to consider an independent trustee, such as a Bank.
When one gets married, it is the ideal time to draft or update a Will to ensure that the new spouse is also included as a beneficiary of the valid and signed Will. A great time to do it is when drafting the anti-nuptial contract, which deals with the dissolution of the marriage, either through death or divorce and how the assets need to be distributed.
A Will on the other hand deals with what happens to the estate or assets of the person that passes on. These two documents will work together each with their own specific focus. Also consider drafting a Will if starting to live with someone that you have joint finances and assets with.
Getting divorced can be traumatic and the last thing one wants to think of is updating a Will, however there can be unintended consequences should the Will not be updated. When a person gets divorced, a Will which was executed before the date of divorce is suspended for a period of 3 months.
After the three months, the previous Will comes back into effect with the potential outcome that the previous spouse could inherit your assets. The easy way to ensure that effects are given to your wishes, is to update and sign a Will as soon as you get divorced.
“If one does not have a valid Will or updated one that reflects their wishes, the wrong people could inherit their assets or alternatively the people that should have inherited do not inherit. Having a signed Will in place gives you certainty that the future of your loved ones will be protected and taken care of without any stress or worries. Updating a Will is an easy, safe, and simple process that one can do on the FNB App under nav»,” concludes Ochse.