When we were still childless and very much in love I would have frequent imaginary funerals when I could not reach my husband on his phone. I envisioned myself dressed demurely in black. How macabre! Yet, I know I am not the only one who has done this!
Since our children came along now when I try and call him and am not able to reach him, I put the phone back, make a mental note to try and call him a bit later, which never comes, as I have to get some or other piece of education into the minds of my offspring. No thoughts of death enter my mind, as I am too busy trying to keep myself from causing a death, because my mr. nine year old, who is actually going on fifteen, is trying to test my patience to the limits, while his little brother who is only four, but going on fifteen (because his big brother is his mentor in all things connected to boyhood) is demanding my attention while conducting his school work on his computer. Consequently the imaginary funerals have declined steeply simply because I am now busier. ‘Idle hands are the devil’s workshop’ seems to be very true in my life.
Until two months ago, when my beloved came home with symptoms which resembled a heart attack to a T. (According to doctor Google it also mimicked a panic attack, and a bout of bad indigestion.) (You can read about our experiences here and here.) He went to the emergency department and they immediately hooked him up to all the necessary machines. They shaved his chest to put all the little stickers and the poor bloke had to pee in a bottle because he could not be unhooked from the machines. And so, my imagination proceeded to prepare for a funeral. (Please understand that it is not a question of wishing him dead at all. I am in NO hurry whatsoever to inherit anything. Quite frankly, what is his is mine, and whatever is mine, is already mine, so I will not benefit at all at the time of his demise. I do love him very much. It must be a coping mechanism of some sort.)
During the imaginary preparation for a funeral, the one thought that kept repeating itself was, “We have not signed our wills yet! He can’t die tonight, we have not signed our wills yet!” When he returned at 3:30 am the following morning, with a clear bill of health, the relief was two fold. He was not dead, and we still had time to sign those wills.
Dear Migrant to the Great Southland,
Death is inevitable. You have to think about these things when you prepare to come over and act on it as soon as you land this side. I almost want to go as far as to say that this must be on your ‘To Do’ list for the first month since your arrival.
This week I attended an information session hosted by Shirley Tascone, of SBT Legal. She is an expat who is a lawyer here in Perth (WA). She is passionate about educating new migrants about having their affairs in order and she will also assist them in drafting their wills, without breaking the bank in the process.
As I was listening to her I once again understood the importance of having your affairs in order, and asking yourself the very hard questions, so that those who are left behind, do not have to.
What follows in the rest of this blog is what I thought was the most relevant to new migrants as the set foot ashore. Please note that this is not legal advice, this is my view on the information shared. For your own peace of mind, please contact a lawyer to assist you in drafting your will.
The most important note of caution is, DO NOT BUY A DIY KIT that is available at any News Agent or Post Office. Those kits were drafted with a very simpler life in mind, and is not sufficient for today. Rather spend your money wisely as it will help your loved ones in the future.
There are about six problems that can arise when only having a will from another country.
- Your executor is probably living there. This means he/she will have to find someone in Australia to deal with your assets here. (Read, it is going to cost your estate DOLLARS, and your loved ones will have less.)
- In South Africa it is customary for a couple to have one will only. Should you pass away in Western Australia for example, your original will has to be sent to the Supreme Court in WA, and they KEEP it. The surviving spouse is now without a will. When this person dies the executor of that estate will be looking for the original will to submit, not knowing that it is still with the Supreme Court in Western Australia. (Read, MOERSE DEURMEKAARSPUL.)
- The court in South Africa will be looking for the original will. The executor will have to get his attorney here to write a letter to the court in South Africa to explain that the Western Australia Supreme Court kept the original will. (Think about it! 😦 )
- If you have minor children and the guardians live in South Africa, do you want your kids to go back? In Shirley’s words, let them go where there will be love and nurturing, the money will follow them. My husband and myself are the ONLY ones from our families living in Australia. In the past I used to pray that we get ‘taken’ together. Now I pray that at least one of us stay behind. You have to think of these things, people. You are not guaranteed tomorrow.
- There may be changes to legislation in the countries.
- It can cause delays in the distribution of your assets. (Read, it is going to cost your estate DOLLARS and your loved ones will suffer.)
There is more information that I can share and I will in a follow-up post, but this is the most crucial information that you have to think about even before you arrive here.
If you still have property in South Africa and you have not financially emigrated yet, it is advisable to have a will that is relevant to your South African property and have a will in Australia pertaining to your Australian property.
I have not had an imaginary funeral in a while. I am too busy these days, but now at least I know that our wills are sorted out and have been signed!
May your travels be safe and your days be many, but do not think that it is a given, rather be prepared.
Follow this link to read Part Two of Are your Affairs in Order?