Will / Trusts / Deceased Estates

Managed By: Etienne Genis & Liezel Schoeman-Clark

In South Africa, having a will is of paramount importance as it ensures that your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets are legally recognized and carried out after your passing. There are several reasons why having a will is crucial:

  1. Control over Your Assets: With a will, you have the power to determine how your assets and property will be distributed among your beneficiaries. This allows you to provide for your loved ones, protect your family’s financial future, and leave a legacy according to your specific wishes.
  2. Guardianship of Minor Children: If you have minor children, a will allows you to appoint a legal guardian for them in the event of your passing. This ensures their well-being and provides you with peace of mind knowing that their care is entrusted to someone you trust.
  3. Minimize Family Conflicts: A well-drafted will can help prevent disputes among your heirs and beneficiaries. Without a will, family members may disagree on how to distribute your assets, potentially leading to legal battles and strained relationships.
  4. Tax Efficiency: A well-structured will can help minimize the tax implications for your estate, ultimately preserving more of your assets for your heirs.

If you die without a will in South Africa, your estate is considered intestate, and the law dictates how your assets will be distributed. The Intestate Succession Act of 1987 outlines the default rules, which may not align with your preferences. In this case:

  1. Intestate Heirs: The law will specify who your legal heirs are, and it typically includes your spouse, children, parents, and siblings. The distribution depends on the presence of surviving family members.
  2. Executor Appointment: The Master of the High Court will appoint an executor to manage and distribute your assets according to the legal framework.
  3. Potential Disputes: Without clear instructions, disputes may arise among family members, leading to legal battles and additional emotional strain during an already difficult time.
  4. Longer Process: The administration of an intestate estate can be more time-consuming and complex, potentially delaying the distribution of assets to beneficiaries.

In summary, having a will in South Africa is essential for ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, minimizing family conflicts, and providing for the well- being of your loved ones. Without a will, the legal process can be more complicated and may not reflect your intentions, leading to potential disputes and delays in asset distribution. It is advisable to seek legal counsel to draft a comprehensive will that aligns with your specific circumstances and desires.

For many people, Trust Law and trust administration are unclear. When a trust is not managed correctly, it can become something of a nightmare – especially for the beneficiaries. To avoid this, why not speak to the professionals about your trust, to ensure that your trust and/or will is setup within a valid legal structure, and that the duties of the trustees and the rights of any beneficiaries are stated clearly.

With years of experience in dealing with deceased estates, wills, estate planning, and trusts, the team at Etienne Genis Attorneys is ready to assist in any way possible.

The administration of Deceased Estates is in itself a complex process. Death is a difficult time for all concerned and very few people are equipped to cope with all the legal and financial consequences of death. Luckily, at Etienne Genis Attorneys, we have a professional team with a sound, working knowledge and in-depth expertise in the winding up of Deceased Estates. We will guide you through the entire process, from reporting the Estate to the Master of the High Court, through the exacting procedures prescribed by law, to the final distribution of the Estate to the beneficiaries, in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

We also assist with the entire spectrum of personal estate planning requirements. We can help with anything from preparing your will, providing assistance with proper estate planning, ensuring sufficient cash flow in the estate, setting up family and/or business trusts (discretionary inter vivos trusts or trusts with vested rights), to providing assistance for minors or other vulnerable individuals in a testamentary trust. We offer these services to ensure that your estate devolves efficiently, cost effectively and with a minimum of delay for your chosen beneficiaries.

By seeking the best possible professional assistance, you will be able to identify problem areas, investigate solutions and achieve peace of mind about your will and/or trust. By relying on us, you can rest assured knowing that you have done everything possible to streamline your financial affairs and to ensure that your will is a sound legal document. Our succession law experts are able to offer you this service and will provide you with professional and helpful advice throughout the entire process.

By creating an inter vivos trust, you can protect your assets and safeguard it from creditors and unforeseen circumstances (i.e. legal action, insolvency, divorce, estates duties, etc.) provided it is properly and legally implemented. Life is a rather unpredictable event. If you are a businessman, you must certainly consider having your personal and business affairs analysed by one of our attorneys who specialises in corporate structuring and trust law. Not only will this provide you with peace of mind, but it will also ensure that your family is cared for in the event of your passing.

Over the years, we have worked with many clients’ wills, and are proud to say that we always go the extra mile to ensure a positive outcome. We have been successful with various court applications regarding having a will and testament be declared valid after being dismissed by the Master of the High Court due to non-compliance with the Act on Wills.

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