Are your wishes clear if you were to die while your children are still minors?

This is always a very difficult conversation to have with our clients when we are reviewing estate planning principles with them, because it is not a topic that is easily discussed and can be tricky to fully comprehend. Let’s look at the most important issues to keep in mind when considering this part of your estate and provision planning: It is important to consider this question and to provide for a solution if both parents have passed away; if one parent is still alive, the children still have a guardian.

  • Remember that the age at which majority is reached was reduced some years ago from 21 years to 18 years.
  • It is important to nominate a guardian in your Last Will and Testament as this is a clear indication of your wishes to the outside world, as well as to the authorities who will ultimately be responsible for the appointment of the guardian of your minor children.
  • It is very important to discuss your wishes with the person you wish to nominate as a guardian, to be sure that he or she is both willing and able to assume this HUGE responsibility for you. Becoming a legal guardian is a major undertaking.
  • You should consider the financial impact of your children becoming part of another family and the implication of this responsibility for the family or person you have nominated to be the guardian. This financial implication to the new family should be catered for by way of additional capital being made available to the guardians.
  • It is important to consider whether, if you have several minor children, they will be able to remain a family unit by living together. Will the nominated guardians have a big enough house and the means to look after them? Will the children have to relocate to a new city or change schools? They will already have had to deal with the worst trauma possible and that is the trauma of losing both parents. For this reason, care needs to be taken to add as little stress as possible to the affected children.
  • Lastly, remember that it is possible to look after your children’s financial futures by utilising a testamentary trust to protect their inheritances until they are able and competent to handle this by themselves.

Please talk to one of our advisors or fiduciary experts for assistance and the necessary appropriate advice. It really is worth the effort and can bring considerable peace of mind.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted. (E&OE)

Wayne Visser
Managing Director
FPM Risk and Wealth Management
011 778 9300