The Power of a Valid Will

One of the first steps that individuals should consider when it comes to financial planning is putting in place a valid will. If a person does not have a will, his estate will be distributed according to the strict rules of the prevailing acts. This means that the deceased’s estate may not be distributed according to his last wishes. People who die without a will literally leave behind an administration mess. For example, their bank account and assets will be frozen, family will struggle to access cash and the state decides on distribution of the assets. This “mess” could even take years to sort out.

So what is a valid will?

A will is a legal document that prescribes how a person’s estate should be distributed in the event of his death. For it to be considered “valid”, it should (i) be created ‘in sound mind’,(ii) be in writing: handwritten or printed, (iii) dated and signed and (iv) witnessed (two witnesses must acknowledge your signature and must sign the will in your presence). In South Africa, any person who is 16 years and over may have a will and any person of the age 14 and above may witness a will.

Do you have a valid will?

With a valid will, one is able to;

  • dictate who inherits from his/her estate and the amount thereof,
  • appoint guardians to take care of minor children,
  • protect the inheritance of children under 18,
  • nominate an executor to handle all the administration,
  • distribute his/her estate in a tax efficient manner and most importantly
  • minimize misunderstandings and disputes over his/her estate after death.

Of course, a person may draw up his own will. However, financial advisers can provide much assistance to a person regarding certain legalities and procedures. This includes providing advice regarding tax efficient distributions, choosing a reputable executor, appointing a guardian, trust planning and also protecting the beneficiaries’ inheritance from current or future marriages. is a personal finance weblog that empowers individuals, households and small businesses through educational and insightful articles and blogs. Topics covered include economics, stocks, budgeting, retirement & risk planning, wealth management tips and financial product reviews. So stay plugged-in on!

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