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7 Tips we can learn from Nelson Mandela’s will

It was announced today that Nelson Mandela’s estate is valued at $4.1 million, excluding royalties and potentially other sources, to be split among his family, members of his staff, schools he attended, and the African National Congress, the movement with which he was intimately involved for decades and which now rules post-apartheid South Africa.

How do we know that Mandela’s estate is worth $4.1 million or more, and how do we know who is entitled to what he left behind? Shouldn’t that be private information? Wouldn’t a man of his stature and wealth want it to be private information? It probably won’t be long before we know about Philip Seymour Hoffman’s estate depending on how seriously he took estate planning before his surprising and unfortunate passing at only 46 years old.

We would know these intimate details about one’s estate if Mandela or Seymour Hoffman did the only most basic of estate planning—leaving only a last will and nothing else.

We can learn 7 tips from the fact that Nelson Mandela had what appears to be only a last will.

1. Dying without a will—and in fact dying only with a last will—puts your family through the same probate court process in either case. This is a common myth: people believe, perhaps given the prevalence of fill-in-the-blank software and cheap websites, that a will is enough. There is a sense of false security by relying on a robotic process versus someone with whom you can engage and interact and truly seek advice from. In either case, will or no will, your family has to navigate the public, timely probate court process.

2. Probate takes an average 12-18 months, and longer in more complicated estates or when beneficiaries dispute over assets. And unfortunately, beneficiary disputes have been known to happen and hold up the process even in the smallest of estates where only a few thousand dollars are at stake. This is, after all, a public process and all family members and potentially other interested parties are entitled to notice (even people specifically disinherited in a will), which prompts people to get involved and make a ruckus who might otherwise have gone about their day disrupting someone else’s plans.

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Article contributed by Wills & Wellness.

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