How much will it cost?
“A will can costs anything from nothing, to overR10 000. At Fed Group, we charge R513 if we are appointed the estate’s executor. For an additional R1000+VAT, you can appoint anyone to be the executor” says Lynne Serfontein (CAIB) TEP, Fiduciary services consultant,Fed Group.
Who should keep copies of the Will?
Charmaine Schwenn, Director, Tate, Nolan & Knight Attorneys advises that during his lifetime a testator may keep the original Will or entrust it’s custody to some other person or institution. It is important to keep the original Will in a safe place as the Master of the High Court who oversees the Executor will only accept an original Will complying with all the statutory formalities of drawing a Will. Most attorneys have a securities safe-keeping facility that is indexed and fire proof. It is best that the testator retains a copy and leave a copy with someone they trust with clear instructions as to where the original is located. The biggest difficulty that some encounter is that on the death the family cannot locate the Will.
When and how often to update a Will?
Whenever there are any major changes in your life, your will should be top of mind. These include a marriage, the birth of a child, divorce, purchasing new property or the death of a beneficiary or executor. Your Will must be adapted to fit your circumstances. For example, when your children no longer are minors, you may no longer require the provisions that you had in place for guardians and trusts to administer their inheritance. It is important to update your will after a change in marital status, particularly after a divorce. If you do not change your will to prevent an ex-spouse from inheriting after a divorce, an ex-spouse is still entitled to inherit if the other spouse dies within three months of the divorce being finalised.
Who will execute the estate?
Executing a will could be a long and difficult process. It involves dealing with the Masters office, SARS, banks, the insurance, creditors and much more. Thatcher says the administration of the estate will be done by the executor nominated in the Will. If no executor was nominated in the will, the Master will appoint an executor to administer the estate. In South Africa, there isn’t a formal “reading” process – once a person dies the Will becomes a public document.
The process after death
- The ID document of the deceased must be found. If your local GP certifies the death is by natural causes, a post mortem examination can be avoided. If unnatural causes are suspected, the police will undertake a full inquest. The undertakers will apply to Home Affairs for a death certificate, which is received 5 – 7 days after death.
- Executor will provide the family with a list of requirements (title deeds, credit cards, ID documents, and assets and liabilities).
- The executor will analyse the information received and apply to master of the high court for letters of executorship i.e. authority from the court to act.
- The executor will open an estate late bank account –everything must flow into a bank account relating to the deceased, and the executor is accountable to the last cent.
- The executor will publish a notice to creditors, to establish if the estate is solvent or insolvent. The executor will then collect information/proof on all the assets, and liabilities and see to the lodgement of personal, income, and capital gains tax. If the estate is valued at more than R3.5 million, then they will look at estate duty, i.e. death taxes. If there is estate duty or minor children, then sworn valuations on everything, by an independent sworn appraiser are necessary.
- The executor then draws up an account, which is advertised in the newspaper. If this is free of objections, transferring assets to heirs begins.
How long does it take after death for the estate to be resolved?
Botha notes that this depends on the complexity of the estate. Any delays being experienced, the existence of any possible litigation matters, possible maintenance claims, possible existence of children out of wedlock etc. may cause a delay during the estate administration process. A simple estate can be administered between 6 and 12 months, however, each estate can only be assessed by considering all the merits concerning the estate before establishing a time frame.
Death is inevitable so it’s your responsibility to set aside a few hours to take care of this very important document. Most people will avoid this as they find it very intimidating and don’t really know where or how to start. There is no better time than the present to draw up your Will. “At least you will have peace of mind that should anything un fore seen occur, your property will be distributed in terms of your wishes” Hutchison concluded.