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Are you ready for the unexpected?

(By Kathy East)
 
Have you considered what will happen to your home and other assets when you pass away?  Are your affairs in order? These are sensitive yet very important questions which should receive your urgent attention. 
 
If you do not have  a legally correct Will drawn up, it could cause unnecessary financial distress and a setback to a financially stable future of those who play such an important role in your life – namely your loving family.
 
A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that dictates the process of the division of your assets to be divided amongst your heirs. Therefore you need expert advice to draw up a watertight Will, by using a reputable bank or legal firm to advise and assist you.
 
“Your property portfolio is an asset which demands immediate action regarding what will happen to it once you pass away” says Riaan van Deventer, Head of Real Estate at Engel & Völkers Southern Africa. The FNB website provides valuable information regarding your Will, and they conclude that a Will is the only means of ensuring that your estate is distributed according to your wishes when you pass away. It is therefore a necessity for all persons - but more so for those people with children.
 
“Your assets at the time of your death should be unencumbered, otherwise there is no value of such an inheritance to the benefactors” continued Riaan.  Request that your current financial situation is analysed when your Will is drawn up or reviewed, to determine how your Will's distribution will be affected.
 
A few pointers to consider as you draw up your Will are:

§  The correct use of wording in your Will is of utmost importance, if it is not worded properly or prioritised correctly it could be disastrous for your surviving loved ones, and this could leave them in an undesirable position of destitution and misfortune – which could have been avoided.
§  Consider carefully whom you appoint as your Executor and ensure that it is a person above repute, or your family could be deprived of what should have been due to them. 
§  When deciding on your benefactors, one should be careful of current emotions dictating an irrational decision of whom the benefactor/s should be. Generally your spouse/partner and your children would receive your priority as the main benefactors. 
§  Always consider how your children will be affected. Do not presume that they will be provided for by your main benefactor. Ensure you clearly stipulate what your children will inherit to ensure that they are fully covered in accordance with your wishes.
§  The names of any benefactors of your Will need to be their full and legal names, state their affinity to you and their nicknames, so as to avoid any confusion and to avoid illegal claims.
§  Review your Will periodically to effect any changes. That way you can be assured that it is up to date with any change to your financial situation.
§  This regular reviewing is essential as one could suddenly become seriously ill with a debilitating illness, or die untimely, and then your Will would not have been updated as you would have wished for.
§  Tell your family and friends where your Will is kept for safekeeping, ie your bank or your attorney, etc.  This will assist in avoiding an unnecessary time delay in your Estate being divided according to your wishes.
 
Life Insurance

In addition to your Will, Life Insurance is also an essential part of personal financial planning. Your decision on having such a policy is to decide how you can protect your family financially when you pass away, and should not be overlooked or neglected. Life insurance can settle your outstanding debt and provide ongoing income to your dependents.
 
Get-Insured advises that there are several types of Life Insurance (or “long term cover”) covering a variety of consumer needs and preferences. In death, as in life, there are costs to be paid and it is in times like these that the survivors are usually least able to pay them. Life Insurance can protect a surviving spouse from ruinous medical bills you might occur before you die, or pay taxes and transfer costs that are incurred when an inheritance is transferred.
 
To protect your dependents after your death, consider a policy that will settle the outstanding debt on your bond in the event of your death, disability or dreaded disease.  Essentially, such a policy will ensure that your dependents will inherit a fully paid-up property at the time of your death or any disability.
 
“Take responsibility as early as you can and ensure that in consultation with a reputable insurance broker, you purchase policies that suit your budget, lifestyle and current requirements” concluded Riaan van Deventer, Head of Real Estate, Engel & Völkers.
              
There are only two givens in this world - death and taxes - and we need to ensure we are prepared for both.


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