Wills often cause a problem if they are not worded clearly. Berrie Botha, chief executive of Sanlam Trust, explains the importance of a properly drawn-up will. Good intentions ΓÇô or the way in which we express them ΓÇô also play a role in the drafting of a will. Wills are known to have caused rifts in families, or resulted in someoneΓÇÖs children being estranged. Wills have even led to bitter lawsuits ΓÇô often because the person who died had not expressed his or her wishes clearly and unambiguously.
Consider this example. In his will, John wrote: ΓÇ£I bequeath my boat to my son and the remainder of my estate to my daughter.ΓÇ¥ The result is that his children, who have been at loggerheads since they were small, are at it again because the daughter believes the trailer for the boat belongs to her, as her father stipulated that everything except the boat was hers.
Your will should give you peace of mind. That is why it is vital that you understand the consequences of this document. Good intentions alone are simply not enough. Remember, it is your last wish on earth and therefore it is important for it to be practicable. In short, it must be worded in such a way that your intentions are very clear.
Another problem with regard to wills is that people often do not amend them ΓÇô just as if nothing has changed during their lives!
For example: A couple buys a house in a certain town and in his will the husband leaves the house to his wife (not the mother of his children): “I bequeath the house at 4 Hill Street in Heuweldorp to my wife ΓÇª and the remainder of my estate to my children.”
Shortly afterwards they sell the house and move to another town. The will remains unchanged.
The husband dies and his children, who never liked their stepmother, contend that the new house to which the couple had moved does not belong to the wife as their father had specifically left the old house in Heuweldorp to her, and not the new house. It is then up to the surviving spouse to prove that it was not the intention of the deceased to revoke the bequest and that she is entitled to the replacement house.
A few words ΓÇô an accurate description ΓÇô can therefore have a major impact on the consequences of your will. So donΓÇÖt underestimate the importance of your will. Rather take some time to get expert advice so your will is drawn up in such a way that there is no doubt about your real intentions.
Remember, you will no longer be there and your will must speak for you.
* If you have any enquiries, please contact Berrie Botha at 021 947 4824 or 082 440 2763.
News source: Mooivaal Media – Vaalweekblad