According to an article in Personal Finance [25 August 2018], the acclaimed soul singer, Aretha Franklin, who died on 16 August, did not have a Will.
Her death was not sudden. She had been battling pancreatic cancer for months. Her lawyer had repeatedly urged her to make a Will. But, despite having assets worth around $80 million and four children – one of whom has special needs – she apparently didn’t see the need for one. Instead, she will join the ranks of other stars like Prince and Ike Turner, whose estate has still not been wound up eleven years after his death.
In South Africa, statistics from the Master of the High Court indicate that up to 90% of people die intestate. Women are particularly lax about estate planning. This is worrying in a country where almost half of all children grow up without fathers. The loss of a mother can leave them at the mercy of relatives, neighbours and the state.
Most people assume that when they die, everything will automatically pass on to the obvious beneficiaries. Even when this is the case, if you haven’t appointed an executor in your will, the Master of the High Court has to go through the process of appointing one. This could take months, during which time family members may suffer financial hardship.
Single parents often make a minor child the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. This can lead to a situation where a large sum of money is paid directly into the child’s bank account and, instead of being managed to ensure the child’s future, is spent by the guardian.
Both men and women need to make sure their affairs are in order and that their families are protected by seeking professional help and ensuring that they have a proper will.
Read more about Wills and bequests at https://www.tafta.org.za/bequest.html.