Last will and testament: More important than ever

11 August 2021 | Banking

“In the wake of the Covid-19 third wave, we have seen numerous instances where couples have died, leaving children behind and families reeling with the aftermath,” says Anielle von Finckenstein, Head of FNB Fiduciary.

FNB Fiduciary has been part of the challenging and emotional journey of numerous family members who have been left dealing with the administrative duties that need to be sorted if a loved one has passed away.

“We have borne witness to families being left in a legal bind as there was either no will to work with or an extremely outdated one. We thus offer some help and guidance for families to get their affairs in order.”

As the legal document which outlines the deceased person’s last wishes, obtaining a copy of the latest will is the most essential part of the process. The will is the document needed to determine the distribution of assets, the naming of beneficiaries, and the devolution of the estate. It should also name the executor or executrix of the will and it will act as a guide for executing the deceased’s wishes.

“A will is usually stored in a secure place at home or held in safe custody with the bank. If the deceased died without a will, then the family should seek assistance from a deceased estates practitioner and the estate will be administered under intestate succession rules,” said von Finckenstein.

The responsibility of notifying the nominated executor falls to the family of the deceased. They should provide the executor with the necessary information and documents needed to administer the estate, including details of all the assets and liabilities in the estate.

The executor will require all this information to give effect to the provisions of the deceased’s will or the Intestate Succession Act. This will also enable the nominated executor to attend to the reporting of the estate to the Master of the High Court, who will thereafter issue the nominated executor with the letters of executorship to commence the administration of the estate.

“The first step is to ensure that you have a last will and testament and that it reflects your wishes. Further, ensure that it is updated regularly and that your family knows where it is kept and who will be responsible for executing your wishes. Now more than ever before, there might come a time when we have to manage the estate on behalf of our families. To ensure that you and your loved ones are not left with uncertainty, understand what is needed to wrap up an estate. This will ensure that you and your loved ones are safe in the long-term,” concludes von Finckenstein.

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