Is your testament up to date?

10 September 2020 | Opinion

Windhoek • Paulina Elifas

Crises have one thing in common: crucial decisions matter.
One lesson we continue to learn as we fight Covid-19, is the significance of being prepared for any eventualities. Covid-19 has also taught us that a well-thought out plan is essential in life; it allows us to adapt to constant changes in our lifecycle.
One plan that can speak on your behalf, is a will. It is an essential document, well thought-through and planned out in which a person, 16-years or older, designates beneficiaries and instructs the distribution of their assets after their passing. For minors, a guardian oversees the Will on their behalf.
Recognised by law, there are many benefits of having a will. For instance, it avoids disputes surrounding property grabbing, who the beneficiaries should be, and who should take responsibility for children, whose parents are no longer alive. Writing it will assist in distributing your assets following your wishes.
But most importantly, your will needs to be updated according to the changes in your circumstances.

Some of the reasons to update your will:
• Change in your marital status: Perhaps you just got married and want to include your spouse in your will. If you are going through a divorce, it is also advisable to revisit your will and make necessary adjustments after your new status is confirmed.
• Guardians check: If you are a parent, make sure that you select two to three guardians for your child in order of preference if people on your list get divorced, pass on, or refuse to be custodians of your children at the time of your passing. Ask yourself whether you are satisfied with your preferred list.
• Specify beneficiaries: After your passing, someone will receive your money, house, and other belongings. Make sure that the beneficiaries' information is up-to-date. It is vital to specify who gets what from your estate. Also, consult your two witnesses once you update your will and ask them if they would be willing to stand as your witnesses should your will end up being contested in a court of law by unhappy relatives.
• Have regular check-ins with your executor: The testator or testatrix, which is the person that draws up a will, must nominate a company or person to administer their estate - known as an executor or executrix appointed by the Master of the High Court. They will be responsible for gathering your assets, paying off all your debts, and distributing your estate's net assets as per your will. Regular check-ins with your executor are necessary.
• Store your will in a secure place: Bank Windhoek's Trust and Estate Department is a safe place to store your will. The department can be of service if you wish to put contingency plans in place to protect your loved ones, mainly those who are vulnerable. In such a case, a trust will be created in your drawn up will. The Department will then administer and manage your trust assets following your wishes and relevant legislation.
*Paulina Elifas is Bank Windhoek’s wills administrator.

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