Statistically women live longer than men, and therefore need to ensure their assets last for a longer period, for them, and their children. People often assume that when they die, everything will automatically be left to their children.

But what happens if your child is a minor? Who is going to manage the assets for the minor? What happens if you are separated from your husband but not officially divorced?

Let start by looking at what happens if there is no Will?

In the absence of a Will, The Intestate Succession Act of 1987, which was amended in 1992, comes into effect and states:

  • If you are survived by a spouse but no children, he or she will inherit the entire estate
  • If there is a child but no spouse, the child inherits everything
  • If there is a spouse and children, the spouse gets a “child’s share” or R250 000 (whichever is greater), and the children receive the balance of the estate
  • If you are married in Community of Property, half of the estate belongs to the surviving spouse and will not devolve according to the rules of the intestate succession

Therefore, drawing up a valid Will is probably the most important document you ever sign, as it represents your last wishes and how your assets will be dealt with.

  • Wills need to be clearly written to avoid confusion.
  • Nominate an Executor who has the capacity and knowledge to execute your wishes
  • Appoint Guardian’s for minors
  • If you are divorced, and paying maintenance, keep this in mind when drafting your Will
  • Don’t include funeral arrangements in your Will as it will probably only be read after the funeral
  • Be careful when dividing assets equally between spouse and children. If it’s a house, how is it transferred into everyone’s name?
  • Review your Will regularly. Life changes.
  • Employ a reputable company specializing in Wills, Estates and Trusts to assist you drawing up a valid Will, ensuring your assets are protected, and that there is liquidity for estate duty/executor’s fees.


In many cases, a parent takes out a life policy and makes the minor child a beneficiary. On the single parent’s passing, the child will be paid directly into the child’s bank account. This can be dangerous. There have already been cases where these proceeds were all spent by the child’s guardian!! How can these assets be protected?

  • Be clear in your Will your wishes for the child
  • Consider setting up a Trust for the minor

You can set up a Trust – either Inter vivos or Testamentary. Inter vivos Trusts are set up while you are still alive. Therefore, the Trust can own assets and/or the Life Policy. On the passing of the parent, the policy proceeds are paid into the Trust. The Trust pays the premiums of the policy – and the distributions to the minor.

A Testamentary Trust is created in your Will which comes into effect after you die. The downside to this is that it may take a few months before the Trust is created. However, here again, the Trust will distribute to the minor.

No body likes to think about death, but if you don’t put plans in place for your children now, someone else is going to decide what happens to your children and assets!

Finally, keep all your documents together:

  • Original copy of Will (or where it is kept)
  • Trust Papers
  • Motor vehicle registration certificates
  • Short term insurance details
  • Bond Details
  • ID /Passport
  • Marriage and birth certificates
  • Important docs – Rental agreements, polices

Elena Bevilacqua CFP® Professional

Senior Financial Planner

BCom Hon: Financial Management


Tel: (021) 555 0839

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