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Trusts and Estate Planning

There are a few simple mistakes that people make when writing their wills. Here they are –

1) Don’t write a joint will with your spouse. Rather two separate wills.

2) Leave everything to your spouse so that your R3,5m Estate Duty allowance passes to him/her.

3) Then, if you die simultaneously, leave everything to your living trust, so that your trustees can look after the beneficiaries in accordance with their needs from time to time.

4) Never bequeath money to a minor, because the money will have to be deposited in the Guardian’s Fund. Rather always bequeath to a trust.

5) If you need to bequeath to a minor and don’t have a living trust, form a testamentary trust in your will.

6) When forming a testamentary trust, draft a full trust deed. Do the job properly, refer to it in your will and attach it to your will. Don’t just create it via a few lines in your will.

7) If you insist on bequeathing to individuals, don’t say 50% to this one and 30% to that one etc. as your assets will then have to be sold in order to be able to divide the proceeds up in the percentages that you state.

8) Don’t forget to say whether you want to be cremated or buried.

9) Be sure to sign and date your will and ensure that the witnesses are not people mentioned in the will at all. Full signatures on every page.

10) Make sure that your executor has an original of your will and that your spouse knows where the other original is kept.

A will is a simple document, but you must get it right, otherwise what happens when you die may not be what you would have wished for your loved ones.


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