The new year is already in full swing and it is a good idea to get your personal affairs in order as part of your to-do list. Not only for convenience and peace of mind for yourself, but also for the sake of your family.

Ask yourself the question, “if I would die within the next week, will my family be able, with the information currently available to them, to report my assets and liabilities to my estate’s executor?” Or would they rush around trying to determine what investments you had? Did you have a life insurance policy? Which service provider did you use for your cellular phone contract?

With the above statement I am not suggesting that you discuss your financial position with everyone in your family. The solution to the dilemma lies in the drafting of a legacy file. This file will contain all your important documents (or copies thereof), from your Will to your cellular phone contract.

It may sound like a daunting task to begin with, but rest assured, if the foundation has been laid, you can easily keep it up to date.

You can use a ring file with plastic sleeves or a flip file for this purpose. The file must be kept in a safe place and amongst others, contain the following information:

  1. Information sheet with the contact details of your Attorney, Broker, Banker, Doctor etc.
  2. A copy of your Identity Document
  3. A copy of your latest Will – The original will be in safekeeping at your Attorney’s Offices
  4. Your original Marriage Certificate, Antenuptual Contract, Divorce Order and Settlement Agreement (if applicable)
  5. The latest version of all your Long-term insurance policies – eg. Life insurance, disability insurance and mortgage protection cover
  6. The latest version of all your Short term insurance policies – eg. Insurance cover for your home, household and motor vehicle
  7. Details of your funeral policy and benefits, as well as a list of accounts on which you have death cover
  8. Proof of your Shareholding portfolio
  9. Details of you bank accounts – eg. Your cheque account, credit card account and savings account
  10. Details of your investments – eg. Investment Account at a Bank or annuity
  11. Proof of any assets with value – eg. Coin collection or jewellery
  12. Motor vehicle registration documents
  13. Your valid Television License
  14. Your cellular phone contract, land line contract and internet service provider contract
  15. Detail of all retail accounts eg. Edgars or House and Home
  16. Latest correspondence from the Receiver of Revenue
  17. Details of your Pension Fund and -benefits
  18. Trust Deed and Letters of Authority for any trust in which you have an interest
  19. Copy / Original Deed of Transfer of your property(s)
  20. Details of the Bond Account(s) over your property(s)
  21. Latest Lease Agreements – where you are the Lessor or Lessee
  22. Rehabilitation Order
  23. Any acknowledgement of Debt where you owe money to someone or someone owes money to you
  24. Details of your Medical Aid and Medical GAP Cover

The above list is a guideline and not necessarily complete. Same should be customized to suit your unique circumstances.

The file can easily be kept up to date by replacing the variable information as the relevant documents (eg. An insurance policy) are renewed.

All your important information are now in one place, not only to assist your loved ones in the event of your death, but also to help you should you require for example your FICA documents for a transaction or if you quickly want to determine whether your insurance policy will cover a burst geyser.

Some of the above documents can also be stored in electronic format. You can customize your file to contain both hard copies (of the original documents in your possession eg. Your Marriage Certificate) and electronic copies (of the documents that are sent to you via e-mail eg Insurance policies and bank statements). Remember to make backup copies of the electronic file on a regular basis and to keep the electronic backup with the hard copies.

At the same time you can ensure that all your documents are up to date and make an appointment with your Attorney for the drafting or updating of your will.

This to-do list item is certainly a gift to yourself that will keep on giving over the years.

Compiled by Riëtte Smuts - MHI Attorneys

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