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About 75% of black South Africans do not have a will: Sanlam

About 75% of black South Africans do not have a will: Sanlam
21-09-22 / Sisanda Ndlovu

About 75% of black South Africans do not have a will: Sanlam

Cape Town - According to research by Sanlam, 75% of black South Africans do not have a will. Moreover, nearly half (45%) of those who don’t have one, believe they don’t own sufficient assets to warrant estate planning. Another 45% indicate that they have simply not managed to get around to creating a will. Unfortunately, this can have a significant impact on the dependants of the person who passed.

Moremadi Mabule, Head of Wills Operations at Sanlam Trust, says, “The general rule is that only blood relations of the deceased and their descendants may inherit should someone die without a will. This includes children, grandchildren, parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, uncles, and aunts. The surviving spouse and legally adopted children are exceptions to this rule.

Nobody else, even if they are financially dependent on the deceased, has a claim on intestacy (when you die without a will) as per the current legislation.” However, the Constitutional Court recently ruled that the definition of ‘spouse’ should be expanded to include all life partners. Parliament has 12 months to amend the Intestate Succession Act and Maintenance of Surviving Spouses Act.

Mabule further explains that while some recent legal developments could potentially change things, dying without a will in place can still leave the surviving dependants in a difficult position. “We realise estate planning can feel overwhelming. We’re there to help our clients to navigate this crucial part of their journey to financial confidence.”

Why black South Africans are less likely to have a will:

A lack of financial literacy plays an important role in why many South Africans – including black South Africans - do not have a will. Although the financial literacy gap affects all racial groups, it is only part of the problem.

Mabule says, “While financial literacy does still need attention, the main issue around the lack of estate planning seems to be procrastination. People know that it is important, but do not see it as something to do immediately. When you combine that with the prevailing idea that you need a certain amount of assets to justify having a will, this is a recipe for disaster. Everyone has some form of an asset and having a will in place goes a long way toward helping those who depend on you to live confidently.”

What a will can do for you:

A will means you have the final say, even after you’re gone. These are the benefits of having an up to date will in place:

  • The Wills Act dictates that everyone from the age of 16 can draft a will and there is no minimum asset base, so estate planning can begin early and evolve over your lifetime.
  • You can decide how your assets will be distributed, which means that you can provide for loved ones in the best way you see fit. It also means you can disinherit people who may otherwise stand to inherit.
  • If you have minor children (under 18 years), you can decide who will take care of them.
  • Having a will can ensure that your loved ones avoid lengthy and expensive legal processes, especially when dealing with a less complex estate. There will be no uncertainty about your last wishes.

How to draft a will:

Setting up your will is a simple and inexpensive process, but it can be overwhelming to know where to start. One can have a basic will drafted by completing a will application form, preparing a list of assets and liabilities, instructions on what needs to happen to the estate and the details of beneficiaries.

“One can also draft a less detailed and complex will via our online tool on the Sanlam website. This will is perfect for married couples who are leaving their respective estates to each other and people who would like to leave everything to their young children,” explains Mabule.

If you have a more complex estate and intricate circumstances, it is best to consult a financial adviser who can assist with an estate plan and a will. This process is a particularly important part of financial planning and, fortunately, it is typically not an expensive exercise.

Mabule concludes, “Dealing with the fallout from not having a will in place is something that no one wants to do when a loved one passes. It is also important to update your will regularly or as your circumstances change to ensure it accurately reflects your wishes.”

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