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Lies, Legacies & Paupers
06 May 2020  | André Styger

The promise of “No charge for a will” at so many corporate institutions turns into a nightmare when it comes down to the bottom line as the surviving spouse or children have to hear that the trusted institution is not willing to assist in winding up the deceased’s affairs because, quite frankly, there’s just not enough money in it for them to get involved.

How often do we have to face the grieving family asking for assistance because some institution decided it was not profitable enough to wind up their loved one’s estate? This is no time for the obvious question of “Why did you go to them in first place?” It is different when you have to look someone in the eye and not have the luxury of hiding behind an excuse of some mystical Head Office deciding to renounce the deceased’s trust in nominating them as executor of his estate.

All the enticing promises of “Customers First” falls wayside as profit does not become a deciding factor but becomes the only criteria. All of a sudden the client’s lifelong loyalty and trust counts for nothing. The bottom line prevails irrespective it the client’s legacy suffers and families are left to their own devices.

It is important not only to trust your nominated executor but also to know them. When it comes down to needing money for a coffin or paying the first month’s water and electricity bill, the personal touch trumps a call-centre-approach every time. Always ask yourself (and others) if you will be treated like a person or a number and then decide.

There is merit in the saying “All’s well that ends well” because too many times have the legacy and last impressions of a deceased person has been tainted by the trauma of finalising his or her affairs without assistance because you have been turned away by those who promised to help.

Consider meeting in person the head of the department or team member of those whom you nominate as executors. Do not settle for completing a standard questionnaire that will be sent to a person whom you’ve never met to draft a document you do not understand. Always ask yourself: “Do I trust this person / company with my spouse’s wellbeing, my children’s future or even my Facebook Password?”

Your nominated executor is not there only to finalise your estate, he should establish your legacy, take care of your loved ones and honour your memory, irrespective if there is money to be made or not.

Ultimately, it remains your decision.


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