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Saturday, June 15, 2024

FNB reveals that 34% of customers who take up a Will opt for a joint Will

For many couples or life partners, the idea of creating a joint Will is a practical choice. This is corroborated by FNB’s insights, which reveal that 34% of its customers who have a Will through the bank prefer joint Wills. As we commemorate Will Week, it’s crucial to remind ourselves about the significance of Estate Planning.

Aneesa Razack, CEO of FNB Fiduciary, explains that a joint Will is one legal document in which two individuals have included their respective testamentary provisions, usually but not limited to married couples or domestic partners. “Its primary purpose is to outline their desires about the allocation of their assets in one practical document.  Whether you opt for a joint will or separate Wills, the most important thing is to ensure that your Will and importantly your bigger estate plan accurately reflects your wishes and protects the financial well-being of your loved ones. However, before you decide, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons to determine if it’s the right decision for your unique circumstances,” she adds.

Some important consideration:

  • Simplicity and Efficiency: Joint Wills are convenient for couples who would like to draft or update their Wills where both parties have joint ownership in certain assets or where they have similar wishes as to what should happen to their respective assets at death. 
  • Freedom of testation: When setting up a joint Will, both parties will be able to bequeath their assets in terms of their own wishes and it is not compulsory to leave all assets to the other party. Important, is to ask yourself whether the wishes make sense from a practical point of view where you bequeath your half share of an asset to three persons and your partner bequeaths it to three other persons – would this bequest make sense where 6 people now own a house. 
  • It’s not legally binding: Joint Wills are not binding and any party to a joint Will will be able to set up a later Will should their circumstances or wishes change, effectively revoking their wishes in terms of the joint will.  
  • What happens in the event of death? Should any party of a joint Wills pass away, the original joint Will will need to be submitted to the Master of the High Court as part of the formal estate reporting documentation. There is a risk that this document could get lost which means that the surviving party’s Will could also be at risk as there is only one will. It therefor makes sense for the surviving party to redraft and update their Wills to mitigate this risk.

“Estate planning is a crucial aspect of financial preparedness. It’s essential to consider all the practical implications of not only the provisions in your Will but also the format in which your Will is drafted,” concludes Razack.

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