For the first time in history, women account for more than half the substantial investors (with more than $100 000 in investable assets) and are the fastest growing sector of new business owners in the US - an observation that similarly reflects the position of women in South Africa.
"Yet, statistics show that most women have not taken effective steps to put the legal mechanisms in place through estate planning to protect their assets, families and them-selves" comments Rumana Mahomed manager of Accensis Fiduciary Services.
In particular, women often neglect to write up one of the most important documents a person will ever sign - a will. "Those who do, often don't give the document the attention it deserves and are unaware of the pitfall and issues that can result from a less considered approach. In addition, many believe that a will is something to address much later in life, when they have substantial assets to pass on, but this is not necessarily the wise thing to do. The Wills Act of 1953 stipulates that any individual of 16 years and older may make a will.
"A will does not only deal with the distribution of assets of great or monetary value after our death," says Mahomed, "It often includes assets that will be of sentimental value to those we leave behind thereby protecting these assets for the special people in our life."
She explains that a will gives us peace of mind for several reasons:
"Dying without a valid will renders our estate intestate and the consequences of the distribution of our estate could very well be far removed from our intentions," adds Mahomed.
"The Wills Act sets out the basic formalities and, with the principle of freedom of testation, we have the freedom to set out our wishes as we deem appropriate." There are a few limitations to this freedom of testation such as clauses not being contra bono mores or in conflict with the Constitution but in essence we can be as creative as we please, adds Mahomed.