Easter bunny had an estate plan
Christians will be celebrating Easter Sunday, the day of Jesus Christ's resurrection. Legend has it that the Easter bunny lays, decorates and hides eggs as they are also a symbol of new life.
We can learn a lot from the Easter bunny. This approach of hiding and taking care of the eggs could be likened to estate planning in human beings.
The primary purpose of an estate plan is to help you examine your financial needs and assets in order to make sure that your heirs are provided for in the best possible way, including lifetime planning as well as disposition of property when you die.
A will is a legal document that states to whom you want your assets to go after your death.
A will is one of the key documents in attaining financial freedom.
It is amazing how many people die without having made a will. This legal document provides comfort and has the following attributes and benefits:
- It allows you to appoint heirs of your choice
- It allows for the nomination of a guardian for minor children
- It enables you to make provision for a Trust to be set up for the protection of the inheritance of minors
- It includes the nomination of an executor and trustee of your choice
- It is the cornerstone of your estate plan.
There are a few considerations that you need to be aware of, including the following:
- Your marriage contract could have an impact on how you draft your will
- A will is only valid if executed correctly (signed and witnessed)
- A will should be reviewed on an ongoing basis, for example the birth of a child, buying property, divorce, etc
- Consider drafting a separate will for your offshore (overseas) assets
- Ensure that you have adequately dealt with your business interests.
Anyone who is 16 years and older may make a will. You can personally make your own will or instruct someone else such as a bank or an attorney or accountant to draft it for you.
Most people understand the importance of a will, but many people overlook a very important element - the appointment of an executor.
An executor is someone who you nominate to carry out the instructions of your will and help to handle your estate.
Friends are usually appointed as executors, but we fail to realise that a friend might not understand the complexities and legalities needed to manage your estate effectively.
But what if you don't have a will?
A person who dies without leaving a will is said to die intestate and his or her estate will be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestate succession.
Although the relevant legislation is intended to ensure a fair distribution of assets, it is usually a poor substitute for a will.
"As I was preparing for this column, a fellow colleague asked me: "Did Jesus Christ die intestate?" I chuckled and responded as follows: "Let thy will be done"
So, like the Easter bunny who takes care of her belongings. Human beings are encouraged to have a will and keep it up to date.
This is a responsible step to protect yourself and those you love. It is essential to get to it now and know you have planned and prepared in the best possible way.
- Sekese is a certified, professional financial planner and member of the Financial Planning Institute, visit www.fpi.co.za