Many of us know just how important it is to have a will in place. In fact, we believe that it should form part of the financial and estate planning in every household. However, because writing a will involves the topic of death, it is often avoided.
Sadly, a large number of South Africans pass without having a will in place, which means that they forfeit the privilege of deciding what should happen to their estate and the estate gets allocated in terms of the pre-determined legislated guidelines known as intestate succession.
When this happens, the intestacy laws of the state will determine how your property is distributed. Here are 3 things that could happen if you pass without a will in place.
In all scenarios mentioned below, the Master of the High Court will nominate a person, known as an executor, to administer the estate.
Your Property Will Be Distributed According To The Law
Any assets you own, including bank accounts, securities and real estates will be distributed in terms of the Intestate Succession Act, Act 81 of 1987. These laws vary depending on whether you were single, married, or have children. In most cases, your property is distributed in split shares to your “heirs”, which could include your spouse, siblings, and other relatives. In cases where no relatives can be found, the entire estate goes to the state.
Your Partner Could Be Left With Nothing
Intestacy laws only recognise relatives when distributing property which means that unmarried couples will not inherit the property of the partner who has passed. The surviving partner will only inherit the property if there is a will stating so.
Your Children Might Not Get What Is Theirs
Even though the intestacy laws ensure that the property is distributed to relatives, if you have children under the age of 18, anything they are entitled to receive will be held in the Guardian’s Fund until they turn 18.
These funds can only be accessed for limited purposes upon request and will undergo strict processes before they are released.
Passing without a will can be devastating and expensive for your loved ones left behind, which is why it is wise to speak with an estate planning attorney who can help you draft a valid will. If you require any assistance regarding estate planning, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]