As the number of COVID-19 infections in South Africa spikes again, and everyone eagerly awaits the vaccine, people are more focused than usual on their own mortality. This highlights the importance of ensuring that an individual’s financial affairs is in order.
During March 2020, US-based online estate planning company Gentreo saw a 143% week-on-week increase in the number of individuals completing online wills. Another American online wills business, Trust & Will recorded a 50% growth in users over the same period.
“We urge our clients to update their last will and testament on a regular basis – at least once a year – to ensure that circumstantial changes have been considered,” says Trisca Hattingh, Head: Fiduciary Services at leading financial advisory business GTC. “A new family member may have been born, an heir may now be deceased, some family members may have had a change in marital status – these, and many other changes happen all the time, and need to be considered in updating one’s will on an evolving and progressive basis.”
Hattingh also strongly stresses the role of the adviser. She recommends that individuals seek professional advice when preparing their estate because testamentary advisors have the objective and professional expertise to provide proper counsel, while being able to offer guidance about appointing independent executors, adopting appropriate tax planning and ensuring all other important requirements have been considered.
“While nobody could have expected or even planned for the Coronavirus pandemic, it has given us a greater awareness of how fragile life can be. In addition to a valid will, it is vital to leave detailed directions ensuring your remaining assets are dealt with according to your wishes – don’t negate all your good intentions by not planning carefully. And don’t wait for a life-threatening event to implement such an important part of your financial planning” she concludes.
Click here to read more about Hattingh’s insights with a check list of specific questions to ask when updating a will.