I believe we are stepping into our roles as women, wives, mothers, career women, business owners and decision makers with more power and certainty than before. I am (as I am sure you have picked up before) expectant of the magnificent accomplishments that the power-women in my life are (and will be) achieving daily. Ladies, we have great power and potential to offer and now is the time. Good, so we are agreed on these points. But…
I am concerned. I find myself suddenly confronted with my father’s estate and realising how ill-equipped I am to handle the “big-girl” decisions – wills, estate, taxes, life policies, bank accounts, car payments and and and. My concern is not the estate – it has only made me realise that I have not really thought about any of these things before. Sure, I have a financial advisor (somewhere) and I have some life policies somewhere – but I haven’t really thought any of this through properly. And I should. As should you.
My suggestion is too take these issues as the pop up in the coming weeks / months and handle them here, online, so that we can all benefit. Let’s help each other to prepare, to plan, to take charge of our families, finances and personal freedom.
Do you have a will?
Simple question? And if you’re answer is yes – fantastic! But even then, I want to encourage you to continue reading.
A will allows you to determine the manner in which your estate is to be divided amongst you loved ones. It also allows you to nominate the Executor of your estate. The executor is the person who assumes responsibility for winding up your estate. This should be trustworthy person that can be tasked with managing your affairs as if it were their own. It is good idea to inform your prospective executor of the task you have set for them in your will! Note: if you don’t appoint your own executor, your family will have to agree on one (potential issue!) or the Master of the High Court will have to appoint one. This invariably delays the process.
If you do not have will in place, your estate is likely to be divided as follows (courtesy of www.momsmatter.co.za):
If you die without a will, your estate will be distributed in terms of the rules of Intestate Succession and what happens to your estate will depend on your marital status, whether you have children, and whether you have other surviving relatives.
- If you’re married, your spouse will inherit your entire estate.
- If you’re married with children, your estate will be shared between your spouse and your children.
- If you have children but no spouse, you children will inherit your entire estate which will be deposited into the Guardian’s Fund until they reach the age of majority.
- If you don’t have a spouse or any children your parents will get everything.
- If you don’t have parents, your siblings will inherit and so on and so forth.
- If you have divorced your spouse and have not updated your will within 3 months, your ex-spouse will inherit fully in terms of your will.
What to think about for your will:
- Have you decided on an executor?
- Does your estate form part of a trust and if so has a trustee been appointed? (If you are not sure, speak to your lawyer as soon as possible!)
- Who will be your children’s guardian?
- Special instructions or bequests? (How will your estate be divided and / or special items to be distributed to specific parties)
- Consider compiling a list of life policies, retirement annuities and other policies (with policy numbers) to attach to the will.
- While you are at it, pen down all the bank and investment accounts (with numbers) that you have
- Specific burial instructions / requests if appropriate
This is just a suggestion and I would strongly urge you to seek legal and financial council to assist with compiling a will.
Don’t assume that your affairs are in order. Make sure.
Being powerful has a lot to do with being accountable for who you are and how you conduct yourself. Leave a legacy to be proud of.