Be prepared for life after death

Angela Graham

Angela Graham

As if the death of a loved one is not enough to cope with, grieving widows often also have to deal with financial stress.

"Would I have access to funds until the estate is wound up. If I (the wife) have money in my account or investments do they become frozen. I am married in community of property. What do we need to do to ensure the other partner has enough to live on until the estate is wound up? This a problem I hear about every day and I have asked banks and insurance companies and never get a clear answer," a reader asked.

Angélique Visser of FNB Trust Services recommends that if a couple is married out of community of property each spouse should have their own account with sufficient funds in it.

For those married in community of property, however, it is a lot more complicated.

"As each spouse has an undivided half share of the joint estate, a hold has to be placed on all the accounts of both the deceased and surviving spouse. To overcome this predicament, you could set up an Inter Vivos (living) Trust of which you are an income beneficiary. An amount of money may be donated to the trust to cover your estimated income needs on the death of one spouse. The trustees may distribute income to you irrespective of the death of the spouse; just ensure that one of the spouses is not the only trustee," Visser advises.

The trust will hold your real or personal property for the benefit of the persons for whom the trust was created and these assets won't be frozen on death.