Research shows that roughly 70% of South African’s die without a will in place1. That means if you are reading this there is a very good chance you don’t have a will.
If it becomes apparent that there are no wills in place when someone passes away, the Law of Intestate Succession which is effectively the “States will” determines how the estate is split up.
The Master of the High Court then has to appoint a nominated executor but due to the sheer number of intestate estates, there are delays in appointing the executor.
These delays can run into months and sometimes years. The result of this is that the Estates cannot be finalised and therefore assets and bank accounts are frozen. This results in no family members having access to funds for day to day expenses from the deceased's bank accounts.
If there are minor children and both parents have passed away without a will a Guardian fund is established, run and administered by the State. As there is no will nominating legal guardians the court will appoint a guardian for the children, unfortunately, this person may not have been the first choice of the parents.
It is therefore clear that not having a will can be detrimental to the family left behind.
As much as you need a plan to make the most of your finances when you are alive, you need a will to express your wishes and put a plan down for your finances when you are no longer there.