Sonja du Toit explains how important a properly worded will is:
We all know the saying about where good intentions can lead us. Essentially, the saying highlights something we’ve all experienced in one way or another – that our good intentions do not always have the desired outcome. In fact, it’s sometimes just the opposite.
Good intentions – or how we express those – also come into play in the drawing up of a will. Wills have split up families, caused children to become estranged from one another and have led to horrific court battles – often because the person who died didn’t clearly indicate what they actually meant.
Consider this example. John writes in his will: “I bequeath my boat to my son and the remainder of my estate to my daughter”. Lo and behold, the two children have fought since childhood and now they’re at it again, because the daughter believes that the trailer on which the boat is standing is hers. After all, dad expressly stipulated everything except the boat.
Or a will simply states that John bequeaths all his cash to his daughter, Penny. He has good intentions, and the will is put away until it is needed. But a potential problem looms – because what exactly is cash? Is it the notes and coins that John had in his wallet on the day he died? Does it include the fixed deposit at the bank, or perhaps the returns of the insurance policy? Or perhaps it’s simply the balance in his cheque account?
The bottom line is that good intentions need to be backed up with very specific instructions when it comes to the drawing up of a will. “I bequeath the balance of my cheque and savings account to my daughter, Penny.” Rather say exactly what you mean, or else you could be the reason why your children might end up in court to let a judge decide what you actually meant in your will.
Your will is also one of the most important documents you will ever draw up. It can have far-reaching consequences for your loved ones, because it is the one document that can affect all the assets you have accumulated over the years. This is why it is so important for you to make sure from the very beginning that this document is legal and that it serves and protects the interests of your heirs.
Your will should give you peace of mind, and this is precisely why it’s essential for you to understand the consequences of this document. Good intentions alone simply aren’t good enough. Remember, this is your last wish on earth and for this reason it’s important that it is practicable. In short: It must be written in such a way that there is no doubt about your intentions.
A few words – an accurate description – can therefore have a major effect on the consequences of your will. Therefore, don’t underestimate the importance of your will. Rather take a little time and seek expert advice so that your will is drawn up in such a way that no one can doubt your real intentions.
Remember that you will no longer be there. You’ll have to speak through your will.