5 July 2016

Estate planning: looking after your assets and family

By Sieta Autar-Matawlie

Estate planning centres on the transfer of assets from one generation to the next taking into account the tax consequences.

But it is more than that. Estate planning also means taking care of your affairs in advance, in the event of your death or should you become seriously ill.

This post was reviewed and updated on 13 October 2020

You will want your family, whether or not in the immediate circle, to be provided for and this can be done whilst you are still alive (by gifts for example) or after your death. You may also want to make sure your retirement provisions are in order. Does your family know what they have to look out for? After your death, who will be the point of contact and where are the most important documents to be found and what are the passwords to your digital accounts and who can manage these passwords?


Not only is having a sound and up-to-date will important, it is also relevant to have a so-called living will. A will takes care of your affairs in the event of your death, a living will arranges your affairs when you are still alive but are no longer able to make decisions yourself. This includes any medical decisions to be made (yes or no to treatment) or what should happen to your home if you are no longer able to live there independently. Living wills are drawn up by specialised lawyers. Wills are drawn up by a civil-law notary, even though an important advisory role is reserved for lawyers during the preliminary process.

Desired and undesired life events can have a substantial impact on the composition of your assets. Whether the event is marriage, divorce or death; it nearly always has consequences for your assets. You will want to exert influence on the composition and use of your assets. Normally this is possible provided you make timely and proper arrangements. By marrying with a prenuptial agreement, by having a living will and, in the event of death, by having a will for example. Your wishes are the starting point here.

Entrepreneur/director and major shareholder and estate planning

If you run your own business or are a director and major shareholder, there is an additional interest to be taken into account: your business. You will want to preserve the continuity of your business if you are ill and in the event of your death.

Who will be (temporarily) in charge? What are the powers of such person? A living will setting out these considerations prevents many problems. Perhaps now the time has come to start thinking about business succession or business takeover. Who will take over the business, why are heirs important here and how is this going to be arranged tax-wise and legally? The tax component is important as tax saving is an (additional) motive for estate planning. It could well be that you do not wish to saddle your family with unnecessary taxes. It is important to arrange your affairs on time.

Estate planning is important for (wealthy) individuals, entrepreneurs/directors and major shareholders and public benefit organisations. Contact our expert lawyers for advice and to discuss your particular needs.

Sieta Autar-Matawlie

Sieta Autar-Matawlie

Lawyer / associate partner / estate planner / executeur

Sieta Autar-Matawlie has extensive experience in the field of inheritance.

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