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Update your estate details regularly, especially in times of crisis

The festive season is a time to take stock and reassess your plans, policies and will. Here are some of the must-do items to prepare for any crisis in the future.

One of the most important rules when it comes to estate planning is deciding to whom you should bequeath your estate.

Amidst the current pandemic, with the fourth wave currently creating new challenges and risks, pensioners and in fact, everyone, should check whether their estate planning is up to date as often as possible and that it is aligned with their last wishes.

There are many reasons why trillions of rands are tied up in millions of unpaid beneficiary accounts in South Africa. Not knowing who the beneficiaries are, or too often badly constructed and worded last will and testaments, mean your estate planning needs to consider certain details that are mentioned here.

Firstly, check your last will and testament regularly to make sure it is up to date. Remove beneficiaries who may be deceased, add new ones where applicable or change bequest allocations as you see fit. I recommend you make use of an experienced professional to ensure that your last wishes are carried out and leave no room for misinterpretations or misunderstandings.

Keep a file with all your important documents and contracts (including your last will and testament) and let someone you trust know where it is kept. Don’t forget to include valuable information to assist the executor and family members such as passwords for your telephone, your computer, important websites, bank account(s), any savings you may have and even the code for your home alarm system.

Check that the beneficiaries you have nominated for a retirement annuity fund, a living annuity, or a guaranteed annuity with a payment guarantee or a life assurance policy are correct. This can be done directly with the relevant institutions or your appointed financial planner. Ensuring your beneficiaries on your policies and retirement funds are correct should be done when reviewing your will.

To make the grief of your passing more bearable for your loved ones, make sure you keep a list of all your important papers, eg. birth and marriage certificates, passports, tax returns and debit or stop orders etc. Include details of all your various subscriptions and contributions, from payments to medical aid and charities, to your internet service provider and household utilities. This includes everything that you spend money on, which even includes the apps on your mobile phone.

By keeping the above up to date and often re-checking the details, you will make the lives of everyone working on your estate once you are gone a whole lot easier, but most importantly, ensure your estate goes where you intended it to go.

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Martin de Kock

Ascor® Independent Wealth Managers

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