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What Nelson Mandela’s Will Teaches Us About Estate Planning

The will of former South African president Nelson Mandela was unveiled this past Monday after being read aloud to family and friends. The division of his estate was as expected, although many were surprised to hear that Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie was left out of the will entirely. Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel is up to inherit half of the estate if she claims it within three months.

Statistics say that over 50% of adult Americans do not have a will, and if you are one of them – take this opportunity to consider contacting an estate attorney to get started. We looked at the reports on Mandela’s will and have drawn our own applications for you.

Be Prepared

It can’t be said enough, but since you don’t know when you are going to die, it’s important to have a will laid out early in your life. Often people do not consider making a will until they have children or face a serious medical issue, but you must be prepared for the unexpected.

Mandela was an important political figure with a significant amount of assets, so to not have a will would have been unthinkable. However, many people postpone creating a will because they don’t realize the true value of their estate or the potential disputes that could erupt in the absence of a will. Creating a simple will that designates all your assets to one beneficiary is better than no will at all.

Update Your Will

Mandela’s will was first written in 2004 and amended in 2008. While 2008 may not have been that long ago, a lot can take place in 6 years. Many families face even bigger issues when wills are not updated for ten or more years.

It’s important to review beneficiary designations (those receiving your assets) since death, divorce, and marriage change family relationships. You may need to add or remove family members, friends, and more over the years.

Having an ironclad estate plan can eliminate disputes that often arise among family members. In Mandela’s case, sources state that arguments among children and grandchildren had previously arisen over Mandela’s investments, but upon his death, his will was very clear in divvying up his estate. As of yet, there have not been any reports of contestations since the will was read this week.

Find Someone You Can Trust

It is paramount to your estate plan to have someone you can trust to carry out your final wishes. Often this is where an estate attorney comes into play.  An estate attorney can help ensure that you have taken care of everything and advise you in these important decisions about dividing up assets, creating a living will and Power of Attorney, and more. Don’t wait until it’s too late!