September is National Wills Month, so now’s a good time to understand why you need a will, especially if you have kids. Financial experts at Hero Life explain all you need to know about getting a will, and what it should include.
Why you need a will
If you don’t have a will when you die, your assets will be dealt with in terms of the law of intestate succession, which means that your assets might not go to the people you intended. Without a proper will, it isn’t guaranteed that they’ll receive anything from your estate when you pass away.
Who needs a will
Every adult needs a will, and it’s especially important for parents to have one so that they can appoint a guardian if something happens to both of them. A lot of parents don’t realise that if they don’t properly state the children’s legal guardian in the will, the courts could choose someone to take care of them and it might not be someone who you would have chosen.
The expectation is usually that the spouse will take care of the children; however, they could pass away at the same time or within close proximity, which is why it’s essential to appoint a legal guardian for your children.
“Drawing up a will can be as easy as downloading basic templates from the internet or going through an online will-drafting process.”
Regardless of your assets and how much – or how little – you have, you still need a will. A will is not just about money or possessions – they can contain special requests that you want adhered to when you die, for example your burial, and who will take care of your pets.
How to get a will
- Nowadays, drawing up a will can be as easy as downloading basic templates from the internet or going through an online will-drafting process. In more complex cases (such as when there are ex-spouses/partners, children from previous marriages, disabled dependents, a special needs trust or any other specific wishes to be implemented), it is preferable to have a practising attorney or reputable bank draw up the will.
- Appoint a good executor, who will ensure that your assets go to the places and people you want them to. This ensures that the wishes of the testator (the person who has written and executed a last will and testament that’s to take effect at the time of their death) are set out correctly, and that it complies with all the legal requirements.
- Make sure that all the gifts you would like to leave to beneficiaries are detailed, and that the beneficiary is clearly stated, especially when family members could have the same name.
- Use clear and succinct language – a will doesn’t need to be written in legal jargon.
- You need to appoint two witnesses to sign off the will, in your presence and in the presence of each other, and these cannot be any of the beneficiaries stated in the will.
- Date the will, so it’s clear when it was compiled and so that there are no arguments with regards to earlier versions of the will.
- Update your will regularly. The birth of a child or change of marital status are usually neglected, and not removing people you no longer want in your will or forgetting to add new people will cause issues. It is advisable to review your will every year.
- Keep your will in a safe space and let your loved ones know where it’s located.
For more information on drawing up a will, getting started on your kids’ university savings fund or getting life insurance, contact Hero Life.
This article is to provide general information on the subjects covered. It is not, however, intended to provide specific advice or to serve as the basis for any purchasing decisions. Hero Life is underwritten by Guardrisk Life Ltd an authorised Financial Services Provider (FSP 76).
Advise is rendered by representatives mandated by MMI Group Limited trading as Metropolitan (FSP 44673).