It is often said that in life, there are only two certainties, death, and taxes. However, despite ‘The End’ being an inevitability for us all, many put off the idea of making a will, especially those who aren’t of ill health or don’t possess significant wealth.
While it could be considered morbid to think of death, making a will is an essential step that is made even more important if you own assets such as property.
Bruce Swain, LeapFrog Property Group CEO states: “A property is an asset that you worked hard to acquire, and care should be taken to ensure that it continues to benefit your heirs after your death,”
The South African real estate firm LeapFrog Property Group have shared with Residential People the following information and urges homeowners across the country to seek advice and compose a will in order to leave a legacy for your loved ones.
Leave a legacy… rather than an admin nightmare
Unless you seek professional assistance in drafting a will you could be creating major hassles for your family, or for those whom you’d like to inherit the property. There are many legalities around fixed properties that are held in an estate, which means that those who it is intended for (like your partner or children) may have to navigate plenty of red tape to lay claim to the asset.
Marriage & Minors matters
Married persons should remember that if they are married in community of property, they only own half of any asset that is registered in their own names, as well as half of the assets registered to their spouse. In most cases, it doesn’t matter how or when the assets were registered or acquired – the spouse is always entitled to half of it.
This means that if you are married in community of property, your will should only specify what happens to your half of the property – which you can appropriate as you see fit.
In the case where half of an asset is bequeathed to minors and the property is bonded and your will and/or life insurance hasn’t made provision for discharging the bond, the property may have to be sold. Consider the possible implication of this in your will, and speak to a financial advisor about life insurance, which could cover the shortfall of what you owe on assets like a property.
Document do’s and don’ts
While a number of people (lawyer, fiduciary expert, auditor, accountant, bank) may draft a will, it is not a document that should be compiled in isolation. It’s important that your will speaks to your financial situation as estate duty, capital gains tax and liquidity may all affect what happens to your property after death.
Remember that a will is a living document and that it needs to be revised and updated regularly, or whenever a significant life event happens, such as marriage, divorce, the birth or adoption of a child, the acquisition of a property or the death of a would-be heir.
Our best advice is simply to not delay getting a will drafted. Like taxes, death is a certainty. But unlike taxes, where the deadline is known, death often comes as a surprise.