A Will allows you to decide what happens to your property when you pass on instead of the law of intestate succession dictating who should inherit your property and in what portion. The majority of people would want to distribute their property differently than what the law would prescribe and essentially your spouse, children or parents take priority when you die without a Will.
Your Will ensures that your wishes are followed which in turn may reduce conflict within the family and speculation over what you would have wanted. A Will goes further than merely distributing your property in that you can use your Will to do the following:
name an executor to wind up your estate;
name guardians for your children and their property;
create trusts for your children or other minor beneficiaries;
Another important aspect is that through a Will, you can choose to disinherit individuals who may otherwise inherit your estate if you die without a Will or without an updated Will which reflects your most recent wishes. For example, failing to amend your Will after a divorce can have the effect that your ex-spouse with whom you had an unpleasant divorce with can end up benefiting under your existing Will.
You may also choose to have a Living Will, which is essentially a document that states your wishes in the event that you are on life support in a persistent vegetative state or irreversible coma and cannot communicate your end of life wishes yourself. A living will in place spares your loved ones from making life or death decisions in that it will be up to you whether or not you want to remain on life support. This will also eliminate any emotionally straining arguments family members might have over the situation.
South Africa does not have specific laws in place that deal with the validity or enforceability of living wills, but nevertheless, it is still a valuable document to have as medical practitioners have guidelines to adhere to when a person has a Living Will.
For more information on Last Will and Testaments and other related matters, contact Myers Attorneys at (011) 346 2422 or firstname.lastname@example.org