Death does not discriminate, and as Benjamin Franklin pointed out, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” We may not know when we are going to die, but we do know that it will happen, however, there are some fundamental actions that you should carry out before this happens.

With a bit of preparation, you can put yourself at ease and save your loved ones a lot of turmoil and confusion later. While contemplating your impending passing from this life may be a rather depressing subject; it is necessary to ensure that your family knows where your Last Will and other relevant documents are in the event of your death.

How Long Will It Take To Finalise My Estate?

When you or someone close to you dies, it can take anywhere from 7 months up to a couple of years to finalise the relevant Estate – incurring additional costs, stress, and heartache along the way. Even if you have been diligent enough to update your Will, there are many more documents that will be required in the event of your death. A simple solution to avoid the chaos of your family trying to locate all the necessary documents is to create a Life File. This is a folder or a box which contains the paperwork that your family will need when you die. Remember that you are never too young or too old to put a Life File together.

What Are The Important Documents Needed When I Die?

Some of the documents that need to be readily available in the event of your death include:

  • Your original Will – remember to keep this updated as your circumstances change.
  • Your Living Will (if you have chosen to have one).
  • Proof of any Funeral Policies that you may have. These will take the financial burden off your family.
  • A copy of your I.D.
  • A copy of your Driver’s License.
  • A copy of the I.D. of your nominated/proposed Executor.
  • A copy of the ID’s of your beneficiaries – this must always be kept up to date.
  • A copy of your marriage certificate (and Antenuptial Contract, if applicable).
  • Your Income Tax number (plus VAT number too, if applicable).
  • A list of your assets, with approximate estimated values. Furniture and household items can be grouped with these. This will help you calculate your worth so that your Financial Planner can put a suitable plan in place for your beneficiaries after your death.
  • If there is any immovable property, e.g. residential homes, a copy of the relevant municipal accounts (plus a copy of title deeds, if available), details of the existing bondholder and the bond account number will need to be provided.
  • A copy of your recent bank and credit card statements (which will need to be kept updated).
  • Any Share Certificates that you may own.
  • Details of any Insurance policies – ensure that these policies are always kept up to date.
  • Employers details, including your latest salary slip (if you are employed).
  • Pension details (if applicable).
  • Motor vehicle registration papers.
  • List of claims in favour of the Estate, i.e. any money owed to you.
  • List of the Estate liabilities, i.e. any money owed by you.
  • A comprehensive list of all your online accounts, login details and passwords.
  • Your firearm/s – a copy of firearm license/s, details of whereabouts of the firearm/s.
  • Your medical Insurance details.
  • Any specific instructions that you have which must be acted upon at the time of your death.

Keep Your Life File In A Safe Place

Once you have all of these documents together, you will need to put them into one box or one folder and store it in a secure place – preferably your safe, a safety deposit box or with your Attorney Remember to inform a family member, friend, or the Executor of your Will as to where this file can be found.

Failing to keep your records and documents updated, or in a single place, could have emotional and financial consequences for your loved ones. If you do not keep an updated Will, you run the risk of your possessions and wealth ending up in unintended hands.

You will find that there are so many details to consider once you start putting your Life File together. For example, have you considered becoming an organ donor, setting up a Power of Attorney or a Living Will, appointing a health proxy (in the event that you become incapacitated and are unable to make life decisions for yourself)?

Consult An Attorney To Assist With Your Will And Estate

Each person has a unique set of circumstances, and whether you have a modest income or own a vast empire, it is judicious to consult a professional, such as an Attorney in this regard. Remember that your life can change at any moment, so do not procrastinate in getting your Life File in order, no matter what age you are.

AED Attorneys has been in operation since 2014 and has all the resources to advise you in these matters efficiently. We have considerable experience when it comes to drafting Wills and finalising your Estate.

Annie Davids, Founder of AED Attorneys, says, “It is important to leave a legacy and provide for your family’s future.” AED Attorneys will assist you in appointing an experienced Executor, who is responsible for the administration of your Estate, and a Trustee who will administer the Trust once the money has been paid into it by the Executor. AED Attorneys will also ensure that any estate duty taxes are legally minimised.

For further information, or to set up an appointment, contact AED Attorneys.

*AED Attorneys understands that every situation is unique, and although they strive to ensure that the information contained herein is accurate at the time of publishing, it cannot be guaranteed to be without errors or omissions. As a result, AED Attorneys, its employees, independent contractors, associates or third parties will under no circumstances accept liability or be held liable, for any innocent or negligent actions or omissions in this article, which may result in any harm or liability flowing from the use of or the inability to use the information provided.