The South African government is the single largest employer in the country with over 1.3-million employees across multiple sectors including teachers, nurses, doctors, municipal workers, police officers and defence force members. It came to light recently that as many as 1-million government employees do not have a Last Will and Testament in place.
The national average across all employment sectors in the country is as high as 75% of employees without a Will in place. Although no official stats can be confirmed as yet, the industry largely agrees that the government sector lags well behind in this area and government employees without Wills could be as high as 80-90% of the workforce.
“The South African financial services industry has done a poor job over the last 20 years in educating the population on the importance of having a Will,” says Alex Simeonides, CEO of Capital Legacy, South Africa’s leading provider of Wills. “The industry’s focus has been on the ’big-ticket’ items such as life cover, funeral plans, car insurance, personal and home loans etc. The reality is that without a Will in place, the consequences for the family left behind can be devastating.”
The consequences of passing away without a Will include:
- You forfeit the opportunity to decide who inherits what and your Estate is distributed according to South African law. This means people who you may not have wanted to benefit from your Estate may inherit your Estate.
- Your partner may be left with nothing if you are not married, or your Will is not updated from a previous marriage.
- Your children’s inheritance could pass to the Government Guardian’s Fund or appointed Guardian rather than to a Trust that will ensure your wishes for them are carried out.
- Family feuds often occur when family members argue over the distribution of your Estate when final wishes are not clearly documented in a Will.
- Winding up your Estate can take years — without a Will appointing a professional Executor, the government is essentially in control of the process.
The South African government employs more than 410 000 teachers, 243 000 health workers and 193 000 police officers, with a large proportion being homeowners and parents.
These are scary statistics when you consider how many of these professionals don’t have a valid Will in place.
Most vulnerable are single parents of minor children. Research conducted in the past five years by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the South African Race Relations Institute (SARRI) found that 60% of South African children have absent fathers, and more than 40% of South African mothers are single parents. This is a sobering thought if there is no Will in place and the inheritance of the minor child could be passed to the Government Guardian’s Fund.
“We’ve seen terrible cases where there’s a death in the family, and there is no valid Will in place and minor children are involved. A Will brings certainty and clarity to an already highly emotional situation,” notes Simeonides.
The situation in South Africa is in fact so dire, that the National Law Society has started promoting a National Will Week every year to help educate the South African population and recruit the support of legal firms across the country.
Traditionally Wills have been viewed as only for the wealthy. The reality is that everyone is subject to the same legal processes when we pass away and having a Will in place makes that process far more streamlined and often more cost-effective.
Capital Legacy launched a division 18 months ago exclusively to help educate and support the government sector and help more government employees get their Wills in order. The results have been nothing short of astonishing, with already over 15 000 government employees getting their Wills drafted with Capital Legacy.
“We knew there was a dire need, but we never expected such a dramatic take-up of our offering,” states Simeonides. “What started out as a project we were passionate about, has very quickly turned into a division with over 100 consultants across the country helping well over 1 000 government employees every month get their Wills in order.”
The stark reality of Covid-19 deaths in South Africa has also further forced many people to stop and make sure they’ve planned for the unexpected by getting their affairs in order, to leave a legacy for their families. With so many government employees on the Covid-19 frontlines, companies such as Capital Legacy are making a real difference in this regard.
To find out more, visit: https://www.capitallegacy.co.za/your-cover/keyplan/