Put your house in order: Estate Planning

Death is an unavoidable aspect of life. And probably more financially intertwined in your life than you realise. That is why it is imperative you ensure all your assets, ownerships and investments are clearly defined in an Estate Plan, including a Will, and that your wishes will be executed without dissention after your death.

Steps to begin planning your estate


Talk to your family
When drawing up your plans, you must make sure that others know about it, and that they understand your wishes. Discuss your views openly with your family before you make final decisions. Often beneficiaries have ideas of what they might wish to inherit or not. They should know what your intentions are, and any dissention should be sorted out well in advance of the final completion of your plan.

Draw up a Will
A Will is one of the most important estate planning documents, and everyone over the age of 18 should have one. No matter how little you have, it will need to be processed through the winding up of your estate. And it is there to ensure there is no animosity amongst your heirs. Your marital status will affect the drawing up of this vital document. A Will can also name a guardian for minor children, and designate a carer for your pets. You can leave assets to charitable organisations in your Will. Make sure you sign and date your will, in front of two non-related witnesses who should also sign the document, and have it notarised. Finally, make sure other people know the location of the document so they may access it when needed.

List your valuables and assets and other relevant information

There may be more than you expect when you start to put items to paper.

  • Go through your house and list all valuable items such as: jewellery, collectibles, artworks, antiques, televisions, computers, etc.
  • Then list larger items, beginning with properties, vehicles, furniture, etc.
  • Non-physical assets will take some consideration as well: intellectual property, insurance policies, bank accounts, investments, retirement funds, etc. Also list the contact information for all the companies managing these accounts and issues. Make sure any beneficiaries mentioned are current and correct.
  • Make a note of any memberships or charities which you support – should there be any donations to be made, your family will know what you prefer.
  • When your lists are completed, date and sign them, and make at least three copies. One for your wife or next of kin, and one for your estate executor or administrator.
  • Making a list of any debts is also helpful. This should include all credit cards, the regularly used ones and any spare cards, and any other obligations you may have, such as car repayments, bond repayments, lines of credit, and any debts. Again, add account numbers, the location of signed agreements, and the contact information of the companies holding the debt.


Appoint a reliable Executor/Estate Administrator

Your estate administrator or executor will be in charge of administering your Will when you die, and is responsible for making sure your wishes are carried out. Your spouse should not be lumbered with these duties because they are sometimes legally complicated , onerous and time-consuming. Ensure you appoint a qualified professional.

Regularly review your plan and your Will

Every two years – and after any life-changing events such as marriage, divorce, or the arrival of children – you should review and update your Will and your overall plan. Life is constantly changing, and your assets and wishes are likely to change as well. As you get older, your needs may change, such as requiring long-term care insurance or changing investments for tax purposes, etc.

A Living Will and other important documents

  • A Living Will encompasses the situation whereby an unconscious person suffering from a terminal illness or life-threatening injury, may have life-sustaining treatments withdrawn. Doctors consult the living will to determine whether or not the patient actually wants life-sustaining treatment, such as assisted breathing or tube feeding. In the absence of a living will, decisions about this medical care will become the responsibility of the family – and may not be the desired outcome of the individual.
  • Important documents include any: legal guardianship of children, power of attorney, instructions with regard to funeral arrangements – either burial or cremation.
  • Life policies that pay out to a beneficiary will not be distributed in terms of the will, but in terms of the beneficiary nomination. Retirement annuities, living annuities, and pension funds do not form part of the estate unless they pay out to the estate.
  • Keep important documents in a safe and accessible place in order to avoid delays for the executor in winding up the estate. Important documents: ID document, marriage certificate, antenuptial contract, divorce orders and decrees, original title deeds of your house, car registration papers, amongst others.
  • Make a list which shares access information to electronic devices, email accounts, social media accounts, cryptocurrency private keys, or a safe. This will assist an executor with gathering information, as well as ensuring correct management of assets.

Find the top-class professionals who can meet your expectations


Complete Financial & Business Solutions (CFBS) comprises a group of top-class professional financial advisors and business analysts committed to sound financial and business solutions based on a highly personalised approach. Passionate about ensuring peace of mind through the in-depth analysis of individual financial and business circumstances of our clients, we are able to create unique solutions, and regularly review these solutions to consistently meet service expectations and lifestyle goals.

Find us at: www.cfbs.co.za

Put your house in order: Estate Planning