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Where is the Will?

Approximately eighteen months after Charmaines passing, I was in the process of finalising the sale of my parents’ home which they had owned since the mid seventies and called my dad to obtain the Title Deed which I had to forward to the transfering attorneys. Since he was out of town at the time, he directed me to retrieve the document from his cuboard at home. After securing the envelope, filled with various personal documents, I discovered a copy of my parents’ Will. I noticed my parents’ Will looked similar to a copy of Charmaine’s Will, a copy of which I had found some months earlier amongst her personal belongings. The difference was, that the first page recorded the details of the attoneys who drafted the Will, while on Charmaines’ Will, this page was missing. This is why I had no way of knowing who the executor to her estate was. I immediately called the attorney and asked whether he had the original Will in his posession, to which he replied Yes. He had no idea that Charmaine had passed two years earlier. And without knowing the whereabouts of the “original” Will, I had no way of winding up her estate. Then the surprise, guess who Charmaine had appointed as the executor to her estate. Me, Your’s struly! And I had no idea.

This raised the question of storage. How does one ensure that the actual “Last” Will and Testament is in fact the one submitted to the Master of the High Court? In my case, what I found amongst Charmaine’s personal documents, were copies of two sets of Wills drafted, but these were completed after her return from Europe. These Wills were drafted several years prior to the birth of son. In other words, we had two problems to deal with. Firstly, I needed to locate original Will. Secondly, I had to find the “Last” Will. Without these two questions answered, I could not submit the Will in my possession since I only had a copy. Even if I had the original, I had no way of knowing whether it was the “Last” version or the incorrect Will would have been submitted to the Master of the High court. This would have been a catastrophe and no-one would have known any better.

So the question is, how can you ensure that your “Last Will” will indeed be executed after your passing? Have you taken adequate care to ensure that the final outcome of the winding up of your estate, is indeed what you have intended? The answer to this question is simple.

The “Last valid Will” should always be stored in a central place where your executor can gain access to it. A trusted family member should also be made aware who your nominated executor is. This is a very important step to consider and I would urge you to ensure that you make this information known to those who will eventually deal with the winding up of your estate.

Yes, I said eventually!