Where there's no will, there's a family feud

It is an unfortunate fact of life that bitter family feuds oftentimes originate from the division of the estate of a loved one after they have passed on.

Where there's no will, there's a family feud

It is an unfortunate fact of life that bitter family feuds oftentimes originate from the division of the estate of a loved one after they have passed on. 

Even where there is no overt conflict, nearly every family has some tension bubbling just beneath the surface as they address family inheritance issues.

Nelson Mandela 

One of South Africa’s most famous sons is a good case in point.

The former president’s estate is a good example of how a will can shield an estate. When Mandela died at the age of 95, he left nothing of the estimated R50 million estate in his will to his ex-wife, Winnie. 

Winnie went to the Supreme Court demanding ownership of the Mandela ancestral home in Qunu, but her efforts were in vain. The case was dismissed with costs by the court, mainly due to Mandela’s will being in good order.

If there was a dispute about Mandela’s estate (with a perfectly good will in place), just imagine the intensity of the family feuds that could erupt regarding an estate if there is no will. Add to the mix children from different spouses, and the drama that could ensue is almost unfathomable. 

In South Africa, when you die without a will (intestate), the law of intestate succession will apply.

This means that your estate will not necessarily be bequeathed (left) to who you intended but will be divided among your surviving spouse, children, parents, or siblings, according to a set formula. 

It has to be emphasised that without a will your assets might not be distributed according to your wishes or the expectations of your loved ones, which might be like a match to an open fuel tank.

Where there is no will, there is a family feud

Capital Legacy has seen many chaotic situations that could have been avoided had a will been in place. Here is just one example of such an estate where the deceased did not leave a will:

The man in question, who had passed on, worked overseas from time to time but had a family in South Africa, a wife and a minor child, as well as an ex-spouse with a minor child. 

According to the Intestate Succession Act, 81 of 1987, because he was married in community of property, his spouse’s assets were also brought into account after his passing.

The spouse automatically receives half a share of the estate and R250 000 or a child’s portion, whichever was greater. She would have had to wait for anything between 12 and 24 months to get her assets and inheritance. Strange as it might sound, she might count herself lucky because Capital Legacy is generally faster than the industry average in winding up estates.

Approximately 3 months after the estate was reported and letters of executorship were issued, we received written confirmation from a woman abroad claiming that the deceased was also the father of her minor child, born a few months before his passing.

That the two families were surprised, is to put it mildly. 

This also raised an additional maintenance claim, potentially wiping out the funds in the estate between the three minors. 

Dodge the drama – get your affairs in order!

The man in question could have avoided the mothers fighting for their children’s benefit, and a spouse with her assets in the mix, had he made explicit provisions with a will to take care of all his affairs. 

Your family could very well endure heartache and turmoil when you pass away. Don’t leave them with even more stress when you’re no longer here. Get your will in place for their sake.  

Capital Legacy has drafted over 600 000 wills over the last 10 years and believes in the power of a personal consultation, where one of our expert consultants will meet you at your convenience to assist you with drafting your will, tailored to your needs. Speak to your financial advisor or contact Capital Legacy today.

Whether you’re in need of a will, life insurance, education cover,
or the power of all three, we have got you covered.

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