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How much does it cost to draft a will?

By Athenkosi Sawutana

Having a Will allows you to determine who inherits your property when you die. If you die intestate, the government will determine how to distribute your assets. Many people die intestate because they don’t know how to draft a will or are intimidated by the costs of drafting one.

JustMoney looks at the costs of drafting a Will.

Tip: Apply for life cover here and stand a chance to get a free Will. 

In a nutshell, the cost of drafting a Will depends on the service provider of your choice. However, the costs of executing it could take up to 30% of the value of your estate. The following are fees that you pay for the execution of your Will.

Executor fees: These are prescribed fees paid to the executor to administer your estate.

Conveyance attorney fees: These are the fees paid to transferring attorneys, if there is fixed property owned by the estate.

Trustee fees: If your Will creates a testamentary trust, the applicable fee to administer the trust will be paid to the trustee.

Property valuation fees: This is the fee paid to for the valuation of any property in your estate which may be subjected to sworn appraisement or fair market value assessment

“Professional will drafters, like fiduciary practitioners and some attorneys, will usually charge between R500 and R1,500 for a Will,” says Dr Eben Nel, chairperson of the Fiduciary Institute of Southern Africa.

This fee usually includes a consultation and some estate planning advice, he adds.

According to David Thomson, a senior legal adviser at Sanlam Trust, the complexity of the Will plays a huge role in its costs. This is because it adds to the professional time of the fiduciary expert, such as an attorney that needs to draft the document.

“If it’s a complicated estate, the fiduciary practitioner may charge an extra fee for an analysis of the estate,” explains Nel.

Quality checks to ensure the Will is well worded and drafted in accordance with the testator’s wishes also add to the amount you pay for your will.

"Added to that is the nominal annual fee applicable to ensure the safekeeping of the original signed document in a fireproof vault, called a safe custody fee,” says Thomson.

Also an added cost could be incurred for travelling if you stay far away from the office. 

Can you draft a will for free?

Companies like Sanlam Trust draft Wills for free if the company is nominated in the Will as the executor or co-executor of the estate.

Will drafters must be reimbursed for their time and knowledge, like any other professional person, says Nel.

“Don’t place too much focus on the cost of a Will, but find a professional person to assist you and who can also give you proper estate planning advice,’’ he advises.

Anyone may draft a free will, but you must be careful. There is some truth in the adage that you get what you pay for, says Nel.

According to him, the drafting of a Will is not as simple as some may think. He advises that you rather find a professional person to assist, even in cases of a fairly small estate.

A proper consultation with you before a Will is drafted is the only way to ensure that the drafter of the document has enough information to do a thorough job. A Will is a legal document and must comply with certain requirements to be valid.

ALSO READ: Why is it important to update your will?

Tips on drawing up a Will: 

  • Keep your Will as straightforward as possible.
  • It’s not advisable to draft your own Will - unless you’re an expert.
  • Make sure that your Will is practical. It’s advisable not to view your Will as a document that will become operative only once you’ve reached an advanced age. You may not be that fortunate.
  • Test the contents of your will against the cash available in your estate.
  • Be practical in the division of your assets. It may, for instance, not be advisable to divide your assets equally among your spouse and children unless your whole estate consists of cash. 
  • If you have minor children, make sure you nominate a guardian.
  • There’s no need to include funeral arrangements in the Will because it will only be read after the funeral.
  • Avoid inflexible directives.

A Will is one of the most important documents in anyone’s life and may have a major impact on your loved ones. Regard a valid will as part of your legacy.

JustMoney can help you draft your Will for free. Contact us at info@justmoney.co.za for more information.

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