The basis of an estate plan is a Will. Whether you have a small or a large estate, a simple clearly drafted Will is essential to prevent uncertainty amongst your heirs or those people or entities which you want to benefit from your estate after your death.
An inter vivos trust, that is a trust established during your lifetime can be a useful estate planning tool. However before creating a trust it is essential that you sit down with your legal and financial advisers to establish whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
If you own a family business which essentially relies on you for its day to day management it is necessary to think about beginning the process of establishing who will “step into your shoes” after your death.
Susan has been involved in the administration of estates, trusts and curatorships for the past 20 years. In addition to taking up appointments as executor and trustee of numerous estates and both inter vivos and testamentary trusts she has also been appointed as curator of persons unable to manage their affairs.
An Antenuptial Contract or ANC is the marriage contract most commonly entered into in South Africa. This document has to be signed before a Notary Public and then registered in the Deeds Office. There are two types of Antenuptial Contracts (with accrual and without) and careful consideration needs to be given to the form of your contract. If you decide that the accrual regime should apply to your marriage then you can also exclude certain assets which are “family assets” from the calculation of the accrual on dissolution of your marriage whether by death or divorce. You also need to consider the disadvantages of not signing an Antenuptial Contract before your marriage in which case you will be married in community of property.
Co-habitation agreements have become increasingly popular and should be considered by everyone who has been living with a partner in a domestic relationship for longer than 2 years and more especially where you buy a home together.
The Joint Building Contracts Committee (JBCC) and Master Builders South Africa publish standard documents which they encourage members to use. Do you understand your rights and obligations in terms of these contracts especially with regard to Payment Certificates? The JBCC website contains a recent judgement concerning the enforcement of payment under payment certificates.
If you are planning to build a house you will be presented with a building contract by your builder - make sure you know what the various terminology means, for instance the definitions of “Beneficial Occupation” and “Completion Certificate”.
If you are involved with anything creative you should consider obtaining advice on how best to protect your rights in this intellectual property before you become famous!
Usually it takes a number of years and a lot of effort to build up a successful business and you do not want to find yourself in the position of having to defend the use of your own trade name against someone who has only recently started using the same name or one confusingly similar but has taken the step to formally lodge an application to register the name.
When buying a property, it is always a good idea to get your attorney to look at the deed of sale before you sign it. An estate agent is usually the seller’s agent, not the purchaser’s and, as a purchaser, you should discuss the implications of the various clauses contained in the deed of sale with a person who does not have an interest in the sale and can give you impartial advice. You cannot amend the deed of sale after you have signed it unless the seller agrees to the change and signs the amendment.