Last Will & Testament
- Will: A legal document by which you dispose of your assets to those people whom you wish to benefit when you die.
- Testator: The person making the will, who must be at least 16 years old and of sound mind.
- Beneficiaries: The people who receive the assets under your will.
- Executor: A person named in a will to look after your assets, pay your debts and distribute the assets to the beneficiaries named in the will after you die.
- Estate: The estate comprises all your assets and all your liabilities.
- Assets: The things you own, such as your home, land, car, bank accounts, insurance policies, shares, personal goods, jewellery, pictures, furniture, etc.
- Codicil: A document used to make minor changes to a will.
- Master of the Supreme Court: He appoints the executor, registers all wills and keeps a file for every person, whose estate is reported. He ensures that the interests of minors and creditors are protected. In the first instance, he decides whether or not a will is valid and he exercises control over executors.
Do I have to make a will?There is no legal obligation to make a will, it is purely a matter of choice. The important thing to remember is that a will gives you a voice in the distribution of your assets and allows you to nominate who receives those assets. When you make a will, you create a legal document that becomes binding after your death. It obliges specified people to perform certain tasks in distributing your estate and ensures that you wishes are carried out. In addition, when you make a will, you may choose your personal representative. (executor). An executor manages your estate during its administration. Another important aspect of having a will is the naming of guardians. This includes naming a guardian to care for your children and a guardian (subject to court approval) to manage money or other property which your children inherit.
Should I revise my will?
A periodic review of your will makes good sense, especially when changes in circumstances suggest reasons for revision. Such circumstances include the following:
- You've married, remarried, been widowed, or been divorced since your will was written.
- You've had a child.
- You want to change the status of your beneficiaries.
- You wish to change the provisions for executor or guardian.
- You have sold or purchased property.
- Estate or tax laws have changed.
There are also other circumstances which may make it advisable to have a will rewritten. If you have any reason to think that a change is necessary, it is important to review your will with a professional adviser.
Where should I keep my will?
Most people lodge wills with their nominated executor or in a safe-deposit box. The important things are that it should be in a safe place and its locality known to your family. Lodged with your will should be details of:
- Locality of title deeds to your various properties and any bonds over them.
- Life insurance policies held.
- Health, disability, accident policies and/or benefits.
- Bank savings or other funds, including investment in shares.
- Hire-purchase or personal loan agreements.
- Registration papers for any vehicles.
- Book of life; marriage certificate; driving license; firearms licenses; passport.
- Pension documents
- Credit Card documents
- Valuable possessions (collections - stamps, coins, paintings, antiques)
- Funeral Insurance policy documents
Estate planning is an essential part of your financial planning, which deals with you reaping the most use and enjoyment from your assets during life, and for your dependents after your death. Planning is performed during the lifetime of the estate owner and a large part of the plan comes into operation upon his or her death. It is an ongoing process of creating and maintaining a program designed to preserve and enjoy accumulated wealth, and to ensure it's most effective and beneficial distribution to succeeding generations in accordance with your wishes.