Why do I need a will?
If you die without a will, known as dying intestate, your assets less liabilities are dividend amongst your relatives according to a legal formula and the division might not go the way you would have liked.
Who may make a will?
According the Wills Act of 1953, any person over 16 years of age who is mentally capable can draw up a will. It is essential that the testator or testatrix must at the time of drawing up a will be of a sound mind and memory.
What does the executor do?
The executor’s duty is to collect all your assets, to settle your debts and to divide the balance among your heirs and lastly to report to the Master of the High Court.
The executor must put a notice in the Government Gazette and local newspaper inviting your creditors to determine if there is any claim against your estate.
The executor must also collect details of all your assets and investments in order to calculate what your tax liability is.
If there is insufficient funds in your estate to pay your debts, your heirs may be asked to sell assets from your estate to make up the difference.
A Liquidation and Distribution Account must be submitted to the Master, who must approve and open it to anyone concerned for at least a period of 21 days by putting a notice in the Government Gazette and local newspaper.
Any objections must be submitted to the Master of the High Court, who will consult with the executor and make a decision with which the executor must comply.
The executor can finalise the estate by paying the creditors and handing over the inheritance to the heirs once all objections have been settled.
What is a Trust?
A trust is a legal entity with its own identity. A trust has contractual capacity and it may acquire and sell assets (property, vehicles etc.) and may also acquire shares in a company for its beneficiaries (the people for whom the trust was created.) A trust entitles its beneficiaries the use and enjoyment of its assets without personally owning the assets as the assets are separate from your personal estate.
What is a Living Will?
This is the document where you can state what type of medical treatment you do or do not wish to receive if you are too ill or injured to direct your own care. A Living Will, will ensure that the doctor do or do not “pull the plug.”
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows another person to act on your behalf should you become disabled, or mentally incapacitated, or even suffer a long-term illness or injury and be unable to manage your own financial affairs. It becomes effective as soon as it is signed.