Friday September 24 is Heritage Day, and for many South Africans, this is an appropriate time to reflect on the assets that they’ve built up over the years, and possibly generations. In these uncertain times, it’s important to reevaluate the value of your assets, and to determine how best to leave a legacy.
Sadly, for many individuals and family businesses, the Covid-19 pandemic and recent civil unrest have necessitated writing off assets, selling property and closing companies. Many people have been forced to make some tough decisions, such as delaying retirement, or trimming what can be bequeathed to their spouse and children.
Here is a checklist to help you take care of your dependents while you are still here for them, and to help you build and maintain your bequest.
- Draw up a budget: Your household may have changed radically since lockdown. Children who left home to work may be back in the family nest. Do you know where your money goes? Reevaluating your budget will help you plan for the future.
- Decrease debt: Examine your various loan obligations, and interest rates. Pay off lingering debt as soon as possible and avoid taking on new obligations.
- Check your insurance: Vehicle accidents, burst geysers and unexpected health scares are, sadly, common occurrences. Ensure that you have appropriate cover that matches your changing needs. Get comparative quotes – many insurers offer favourable rates for senior citizens. Ensure that you have life cover that will pay for your dependents’ needs if you are not in a position to do so.
- Update your will: If you already have a will, check that your instructions are still applicable. If you don’t have a will, draw one up as soon as possible. This is the only way to control who will benefit from your estate, and in what proportions.
- Reassess your retirement: As a rule of thumb, your pension should provide 75% of the monthly income you received while employed. The main asset classes you need to understand when investing are the money market, bonds, listed property and equities.
- Protect family businesses: Descendants need to learn that their focus must be on stewardship of wealth, rather than gaining possession of assets. Family businesses often require specialised structures to establish boundaries between ownership, business management, and family.
- Donate wisely: Handled properly, donations will not only benefit others, but support your tax and financial planning at the same time. Keep in mind that when donating money, it must be to an approved public benefit organisation, and within the allowable annual threshold.
- Instil healthy habits: In addition to leaving tangible assets, being a strong role model, spending quality time together, and establishing family traditions are part of a robust legacy.
Money is a gift, and when managed well, it can transform not only your own children’s lives, but also generations to come. However, this does not happen by accident. You have to plan if you wish to accumulate and transition wealth.
Heritage Day is a reminder to get your affairs in order. There is peace of mind in knowing that your hard-earned assets are being managed and protected for the maximum benefit of those you love.
Shafeeka Anthony is JustMoney marketing manager.