Windhoek – “The importance of having a will in place cannot be emphasized enough,” says Lucas Kotze, Head FNB Namibia Trust Services. “A death is always a tragedy for family and friends and one should be given the opportunity to grieve and not have to worry about wills and testaments not being in place.”
Kotze adds that creating a will is a simple way to ensure that your wishes regarding your property are adhered to after your death. “With a will, you can direct the distribution of your real estate, family heirlooms, stocks and bonds, automobiles, equipment, and any other property that you own. In this way, you can determine who will receive your property, as well as how and when they will receive it. You can also assign a suitable guardian for your children to ensure that they are well looked after.”
Another advantage of creating a will is the ability to designate the individual or individuals that you wish to serve as the personal representative of your estate – that will administer your estate and carry out your intentions as you have declared them in your will.
Kotze adds that even people who have a last will should make sure it is updated regularly and still applicable: “To make sure that your will is up to date, you should also review your will after life changes, such as getting married or divorced, having a new partner, if the amount of money and/or property you own changes significantly; and any birth or adoption to the family, and the like.”
“People seem to be unaware of the fact that in terms of section 9 of the Estate Administration Act, the relative or the surviving spouse of the deceased must report the estate to the master within 14 days of the date of death – failing to do so is a contravention of the Act and a criminal offence.”
He advises: “The practice of not reporting estates has negative consequences. If people own property and pass on without the death being reported, the property is never transferred to the heirs, testate or intestate. Somewhere in future the problem will be detected and then the estate must be administered with historical values. If there was no will, the intestate heirs never received their rightful property and it can even be the case that these heirs have also passed on in the meantime.”
The Master of the High Court in South Africa reported that only 33% of all deaths in South Africa pass the Office of the Master. A total of 66% of all deaths are therefore not reported. In the period January to June 2016, 74 693 deceased estates were reported in SA. Of these only 17 273 were registered with wills which represents 23% of all estates reported. (De Rebus October 2016).
Says Kotze: “We do not have these stats available in Namibia yet, but we can accept that a similar trend will be shown in our country. When doing a bit of research, for example, we also came across the fact that as many as two-thirds of adult Americans do not have a last will and testament. So, it is safe to assume that this seems to be a global trend.”
“We request Namibians to get their last will and testament in order. At the same time, we wish to stress the importance of reporting the estates of deceased family at the office of the Master of the High Court without delay. For more information on last wills and testaments, feel free to contact FNB Trust Services on (061) 299 2093 or visit your nearest FNB branch where we can assist with the drafting of a last will.”