Viv Greene Attorneys

10 Reasons why you need a Last Will and Testament

Do you want to avoid causing inconvenience to your family when you pass away? Have you ever wondered why a last will and testament is so important? We often hear about, or read statistics regarding the number of South Africans who pass away without a valid will or testament drawn up. The remedy for this is actually quite simple and straightforward.

Despite its simplicity, drawing up a last will and testament is something many people often ignore or just don’t get around to doing. We all know, or have heard of situations where someone has passed away without a will. This leaves behind family members in financial ruin and in a state of further grief for months or even years. Death is traumatic for any family so to ensure that there is no uncertainty around your final wishes, drafting your will is a crucial step.


Here are 10 reasons why you need a last will and testament:

1. It will determine who will manage your estate

Nominating an executor means you will have a trusted person wrapping up your affairs. These can include liquidating your assets, paying off your debt, and closing your bank accounts. Not choosing an executor means the court will pick one for you and it probably won’t be a person you would want or approve of.

2. It will let you decide who gets your assets and property

Your executor will be in charge of distributing specific assets to beneficiaries that you have named. A will can also help prevent certain people from receiving anything. This can include for example, an ex-spouse seeking an inheritance.

3. It saves your loved ones time, stress, and money

Without-a-doubt, having a will streamlines the court process. Not having one means that the master of the high court will have to appoint a lawyer or a financial institution as your executor which is an expensive and time-consuming process.

4. A will limits family disputes

Family squabbles and disagreements can be avoided with a clear, well-drafted will. Complicated family dynamics have a way of creating friction which in some cases, can last years. Family feuds and long-drawn-out court battles are challenges that can be limited or cut-out altogether if you have a valid will.

5. A will allows you to name your children’s guardian

You wouldn’t want the state to choose a guardian for your child or children that you wouldn’t have chosen yourself would you? No parent wants someone they did not choose to raise their kids. As a parent, you can nominate a trusted guardian to take care of your minor children. Usually the surviving parent gets sole legal custody but if both parents pass on and no wills are drawn up, the State will determine who will have guardianship.

6. It reduces the risk of legal challenges

A well-drafted will is a binding document that gives you a voice when you are not around to speak for yourself. Making it clear how you want your estate handled in the event of your death reduces the risk of legal challenges. It also allows you to disinherit heirs who would otherwise be included. This minimises the chances of your will being contested as your wishes have been clearly stated.

7. It allows you to provide funeral, burial or cremation instructions

Many of us may not want to think about our own funeral but leaving instructions and suggestions on how you want your funeral to be carried out can lessen the burden on the loved ones you leave behind. Even though they aren’t legally binding, your funeral executor will be provided with some guidance on where your final resting place should be and whether you’d like to be buried or cremated etc.

8. A will allows you to support your favourite causes after you pass  

Your will allows you to make donations to your favourite charitable causes. You can leave part of your estate to a charitable organisation of your choice thus preserving your legacy. In some cases, people leave a significant portion or even all of their accumulated wealth to charity.

9. You can name a digital executor in your will

Digital assets such as social media accounts, websites, email accounts, and digital files such as photos, videos and domain names can be left to specific people to handle. You can leave instructions on whether they should be formally closed or if they should be passed on to someone else. Naming a digital executor means these assets will be managed the way you want after you pass.

10. You can name a beneficiary for your pet

A will allows you to leave your pet or pets with a trusted family member. Pets cannot enforce their rights so the law states that you cannot leave any money or assets to them but you can set aside funds to the person that takes care of them. Your pet’s guardian or caretaker needs to know that they will be given these funds on condition they take care of your pets.

In Conclusion:

Your last will and testament is arguable the single most important document you can have in your life. It gives you peace-of-mind, saves time and money, and makes sure your family is taken care of. For these reasons, it is imperative to draw one up with a legal advisor at Viv Greene attorneys. Having a valid will in place before you pass means that the burden on your loved ones is substantially lessened. To avoid ending up with a document that is not valid, we suggest you enlist the services of a legal practitioner that is committed to offering you personalised services.

Preparing your last will and testament entails much more than writing down your instructions on a piece of paper. This is especially the case if your financial affairs are not in order or you have an extensive property investment profile. You need experienced professionals to draft complex wills. As attorneys, we have witnessed first-hand our fair share of heartache, frustration, and despair that family members go through when their loved passes on without a will. Stop procrastinating and get the professionals to draw up your last will and testament today. Your family will thank you for it and you can rest easy knowing that they are taken care of.

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