Financial Planning | What Happens If You Pass Away Without A Will?

When it comes to financial planning, I can think of only two types of persons who wouldn’t be interested in a Will (and I’m quite sure you might come up with one or two other types. In fact I’m quite sure you could shoot holes through my assumption below 😆 ):

  1. Those with no assets to mention
  2. Those who are happily married and without any dependants at all

But for the rest of us a Will (especially if you have insurance paying to your estate) makes perfect sense as it speaks for us when we no longer can! Strange as it may seem, most people we meet don’t have one so I thought that now would be a good time to chat about what happens when you don’t have one.

What then is intestate succession?

Dying intestate is what happens when you die without having a valid will. Now can you imagine the catfight which would break out amongst family if you died without a will and left a couple of million Rand in cash?

At some point the government got tired of these catfights and decided to regulate this. The Intestate Succession Act decides on how your assets are divided up once you leave this mortal coil.

But first…How does this work if you’re married in community of property?

What’s important here is that community of property means a joint estate. Joint estate means fifty fifty as in…you own (or owned) 50% of the joint estate and your spouse the other 50%.

Now if it’s a case of just you passing away, we need to first split the joint estate in two. Once we have your half of the estate, we can apply the rules of intestate succession.

Let’s now consider the first case scenario…

Deceased survived by a spouse but no dependants

Fairly simple…the surviving spouse inherits it all but…

Who qualifies as a spouse?

Here’s a quick list:

  • Spouses married in or out of community of property
  • Marriage according to Muslim rites
  • Persons married under customary law and this includes concubines where the purpose of the concubine is to provide children.
  • Civil unions and same sex relationships that the Commissioner is satisfied is intended to be permanent (Common law spouses would fall into this category)

Next week we’ll discuss the next intestate scenario – leaving dependants behind but no spouse!

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Until next time.

The InsuranceFundi Team

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