In South Africa, a valid Will determines who your beneficiaries will be and how your estate will be distributed when you pass away. Having a correctly drafted Will in place ensures that your estate can be distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones will be provided for when you are gone. However, when a person passes away without leaving a valid Will, they are said to have died intestate and the law determines who their beneficiaries will be and how their estate will be distributed.
As a specialist fiduciary firm, we have assisted many families where a loved one has passed away without leaving a valid Will. From our experience, we know that often a lot more pain is caused when this occurs. By having a valid Will, you can choose whether you would like to leave specific items and/or a percentage of your estate to your loved ones and choose who you would like your executor to be.
Choosing an executor that you trust and who is professionally qualified in estate administration is key to effective estate planning. Not planning ahead can cause tension amongst your loved ones and create room for those who would like to take advantage of them to do so.
Planning your Will with a Professional Executor is Key
Having a valid Will in place is important, but it is not enough to ensure effective estate planning. Estate planning is a lifelong journey that determines how effectively your estate is ultimately administered. After making a Will, it is crucial to ensure that you regularly update it so that it aligns with your important life events.
Who you partner with in terms of your will (your appointed executor) is a very important decision to make. It can either lead to a smooth administration process experienced by your nominated beneficiaries or a turbulent, long-winded and difficult journey. You want the best care available for the loved ones you leave behind and part of this is taking time to choose the right executor to be appointed on your will.
A good guideline is to update your Will every 1 to 5 years. This depends on your stage of life and the changes that have occurred and are likely to occur soon. For example, if you have recently got married or are planning a family, it is advisable to reconsider your Will every year to include any new spouse or children. If you are nearing retirement and have not updated your will for many years, it is so important to make sure that it is updated to include your current assets and to provide for your loved ones if either of these has changed since your Will was last updated.
Estate Planning Tool – A Life File to go with your Will
Another useful estate planning tool is an updated Life File. The principal purpose of a life file is to ensure that all necessary documentation is on hand for the proper administration of your deceased estate. A Life File is a document that contains important information about you, your loved ones and your assets, such as properties, vehicles and life policies, among other things. When you pass away, having this information will ensure efficient administration and will lessen the burden on your loved ones left behind. If you have a Life File, all your important information will be gathered in one place and up to date.
This allows your executor to efficiently deal with your estate administration, avoid delays and penalties and distribute to your loved ones in a shorter time period. For example, many gap cover or death benefit providers have time limits, e.g. 6 or 12 months, within which to submit claims after which any potential claims fall away. If your Life File is up to date, your executor can act on this information to ensure that you don’t lose out on any benefits due to your estate or your beneficiaries.
The Marsh Fidelity App
At Marsh Fidelity, we add value to our clients through our App and Life File template. Our App is one of the first-to-market fiduciary Apps and allows you to provide peace of mind to yourself and your loved ones in an easy-to-manage way while you are still able to do so. Our Will clients can have access to a special portal on our App with an encrypted username and password entry point. Within this portal, our clients have access to a our carefully curated Life File, which we assist them with completing, their Will and important estate-planning information can be added and continuously updated as life changes occur. The App service also includes the support of our qualified, professional team members.
If you are registered on our App portal, you can also add a trusted contact who will be able to access your portal once you are gone. Access to information after death really helps with closure and leads to a more positive estate administration procedure. Easy access to information after death can also save so much time and improve efficiency of your estate administration. This really benefits your loved ones, and they will also see the care, thought and time you took to really consider them by the way your affairs are in order.
At Marsh Fidelity we have assisted with many estates where there was no clarity and the pain experienced by loved ones in these cases is heightened so much. We want to try our best not to allow this to happen to our clients and their loved ones. Our App will be a great tool in the years to come for all our valued clients and stakeholders.
Conclusion and How to Get Started
If you are a Will client of ours, click the following link to access your special portal and Life File template on our App: https://marshfidelity.co.za/shop/marsh-fidelity-app-access/
If you do not have your Will with Marsh Fidelity, you can still download our App for free and have access to all the features other than the special access portal for our Will clients. Click the following link to download our App for free: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.marshfidelity.android.
You can also purchase a digital Life File template on our online store by clicking the following link: https://marshfidelity.co.za/shop/life-file-template/.
If you would like to become a Will client of ours or find out more about how we can add value to you and your loved ones, contact us today at [email protected] or visit our website at https://marshfidelity.co.za for assistance.