How to make sure your wills are valid during lockdown

By: Alex Simeonides, CEO, Capital Legacy

Lockdown has spurred many South Africans to draw up their Wills online or over the telephone. But with every new circumstance we are often presented with challenges that require innovation and creative solutions to overcome these challenges.

One thing the dawn of Covid-19 has taught us is that if you are not agile it is difficult for you to react in the best interest of your business and therefore your Clients. Another lesson is that it is important to recognise challenges as an opportunity to do better, to do things differently and to still meet your vision. Whether that vision is cultivating a lifelong relationship with your Clients or whether it is to produce products and services that meet a specific need.

“For us at Capital Legacy it is meeting the needs of our Clients, at the time of death. Whether this is providing them with a solution to meet the financial needs of their family at the time of their death or whether it is to make sure that the Will they sign during lockdown will be the Will that is honoured should they pass away while we are still in lockdown,” comments Alex Simeonides, CEO of Wills and estate administration company, Capital Legacy.

Legislation requires a Last Will and Testament be printed and have an original, wet signature of the Testator or Testatrix, as well as those of two independent witnesses. We have all read the recent articles on how this is a challenge in South Africa. The pertinent question now is: “What’s the solution?”.

Simeonides says one solution is to provide an additional declaration stating that you have signed your Will either digitally or in original format but without the required independent witnesses due to special circumstances that do not allow you to have it witnessed.

Should you pass away, this then allows the executor of your estate to petition the High Court to accept the latest version as your Last Will and Testament. By petitioning the High Court to accept a Will that has been signed during Lockdown and that does not meet the signing requirement, it will allow the executor to still honour a client’s wishes, despite the challenges of Lockdown.

Simeonides comments on the practicality of this approach and says that “Due to our unique approach to business, relying on a model of indemnification and integration, we have been able to enhance the cover for all our premium-paying Clients by boosting their Estate Overheads Protector benefit by R30 000, at no cost to them, to meet this financial need. Being agile allows us to meet our vision of providing Wills to everyone and also ensures that their beneficiaries inherit swiftly and affordably as the legal expense for petitioning the High Court to accept their Will as signed during Lockdown is met, guarding their loved ones and their estates against this expense.”

It is imperative that Clients feel secure that the solutions presented to them are the best. They need to trust the judgment of their financial advisor – even during a time when uncertainty prevails. The advice rendered to clients regarding their estate planning – their Will, investments, and how current circumstances will affect their futures should be something that instils trust. Lockdown has presented everyone with the challenge to do things differently and guarding the legacies of clients and instilling trust contributes to cultivating a long-term relationship.