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What If You Die Without a Will?

A will and testament is our way of passing a cultural or commercial legacy onto our children. If you pass away without a will, your estate will be allocated in terms of pre-determined legislated guidelines, known as Intestate Succession.

Vijay Morarjee, CEO of FNB Fiduciary, says, “Having a will in place should from part of broader legacy and financial planning, with specific focus on the estate planning piece.” Many people avoid because it involves the uncomfortable issue of death, but not having a will can be traumatic on the family and, in some instances, quite expensive. “A large number of South Africans pass on without a will in place. This means they have no say on their estate, and prescribed rules take over and operate through a set of legal guidelines on the deceased’s behalf as to how the estate will be divided.”

Here are a few of the scenarios that could unfold should you die intestate:

  1. If the deceased is married in community of property, the deceased’s spouse will receive half of the joint estate plus R250 000 or a child’s portion, whichever is greater. The child’s portion is calculated by dividing the remainder of the estate by the number of children and the number of spouses.
  2. In the event that there is no surviving spouse, the estate is divided between the children of the deceased. If one of the deceased’s children predeceased him/her, then the children of the pre-deceased’s child (the deceased’s grandchildren) will inherit that child’s portion.
  3. In the event that the deceased passes away in the absence of a spouse or children, the estate is divided equally between the parents of the deceased.

In all these scenarios, the Master of the High Court will nominate an executor to administer the estate, as there is no will to confirm the deceased choice of executor of estate. In addition, and in the absence of clear directives that can only be made in a will, all inheritances for minors (person below the age of 18) will be placed in the Guardian Fund, which is administered by the Master of the High Court. The minor will only be allowed to access funds for specific limited purposes and the Master has implemented stringent requirements and processes in this regard to prevent abuse and fraud.

Source: FNB. Image: Pixabay

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