The Crucial Role of Having a Will For Parents

30 years ago, Dinky’s* father, who was a medical doctor passed away unexpectedly in a car accident. He left behind his 9-month-old daughter, Dinky* (now 31), and her mother, a single parent. At the time, Dinky’s* dad was about to marry her mother. The sudden loss plunged Dinky* and her mother into a world of financial struggle and uncertainty because he did not have a Will.

Dinky’s* mother was unable to afford boarding school fees and was forced to withdraw Dinky* and enroll her in a local day school. University was equally hard, and her mother worked tirelessly to pay the fees. Dinky* shared her story with tears in her eyes, questioning why she had to endure such hardship when her dad had been a doctor.

Dinky’s* story highlights the importance of having a Will in place, especially if you have minor children.  Her story is a poignant example of the challenges children can face when their parents don’t have a Will. In South Africa, having a Will is not just a legal formality; it is a vital step to ensure the well-being of your children and to prevent potential family disputes and financial difficulties. In her case, her paternal grandparents had refused to assist in her upbringing as there was an internal family dispute relating to her paternity that resulted in her mother walking away penniless.

Here’s why having a Will is crucial:

  1. Protection for Minor Children: A Will allows for the creation of a Testamentary Trust also known as a Children’s Trust. It allocates the money such as life cover to the Trust. Independent trustees manage these funds, ensuring they are used primarily for educational expenses and safeguarding your children’s future. You can nominate an age when you want the Trust to be dissolved and your children will receive the balance of the money in the Trust in cash at that age. We usually recommend age 25 as children are more matured and hopefully completed their studies.
  2. Avoiding Family Disputes: A clearly outlined Will prevents conflicts among family members. Dinky’s* story highlights how a lack of a Will can lead to disputes and estrangement, which can further strain the emotional and financial resources of those left behind.
  3. Financial Security: With a Will, you can ensure that your assets are bequeathed according to your wishes, providing financial security for your dependents. This will empower you to make decisions regrading your estate and give you peace of mind because your dependents will be cared for according to your wishes.

In this case, Dinky’s* school and university fees could have been taken care of through a Children’s/Testamentary Trust where her fees would have been paid directly to the schools, thus reducing the financial stress her mother endured.

Lastly, it’s important to ensure that your Will is signed and valid in the eyes of the Master of the High Court. Please contact us for Will signing guidelines and we will send them to you accordingly.

*Dinky is not her real name.

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