The Will of My Mortality

What will happen to my son should I die while he is still a child; unable to fend for himself? Who will provide for him and care for him? Who is best placed to continue parenting him, foresee his needs and challenges? These thoughts weighed heavily on my subconscious mind each day. Even more so in then days leading up to my attendance of the FCEI Conference in Austria.

A single parent. The main breadwinner, the advocate and mother who will stop at nothing to ensure her child’s best interest is always at the heart of all decisions. A woman whose bread and butter is a lifestyle choice, a choice that complements her need for flexibility, someone who made it clear from day one that her son is first and foremost.

How could I even begin to put a plan in place for my son upon my death? Thinking about my own mortality and how it may impact on my child, should I leave this world before my time. My word, who thinks like this, who writes about these things?

Drafting a Last Will and Testament has been on my to-do list for a very long time. My biggest concern, Legal Guardianship of my son. Wondering who would fight for him the way I have, should the worms decide to creep out the woodwork upon my demise?

Well, I would hope with all that I am, that the people closest to me, the ones who have walked this parenting journey with me will fight tooth and nail to ensure that my son does not get caught up in any battles around legal guardianship or claims thereto. This, of course, is worse case scenario, and perhaps I am being very dramatic, but these are the thoughts that pushed me to action the necessary.

Fortunately two weeks ago, I was afforded free assistance with drafting my Will as part of Chalford Wealth Management’s participation in the Pay It Forward campaigns in my community. I met with the Financial Planner who tried his best to have the lawyers draft my will before I left the country. He also assured me that everything discussed would remain confidential.

Here’s some of the questions that I had.

  1. Will my disclosure of very personal information be discussed with others?
  2. What happens if anyone in the company (including the Lawyers Firm) realised that they knew my son’s paternal family – would my request be disclosed to them over a glass of wine?
  3. How much will executing my Last Will and Testament cost my beneficiaries?
  4. Can I trust him and the company that employs him?

I needed to ask these questions to put my mind at ease and his answers gave me the needed confidence to proceed. Ethics are extremely important and I would like to die knowing that I do not ever have to question the integrity of the people who have been instrumental in assisting me with drafting my Will and ensuring its execution, exactly as I stipulated.

Some of the decisions that I’ve made.

  1. My son’s legal guardians will have to consult with a dedicated team of professionals, whom I’ve identified, when it comes to any decisions around his special needs requirements.
  2. An impartial team of executors have been stipulated, to execute my Will and to manage my son’s Trust. This decision has been made to ensure that the legal guardians are never placed in a position that may compromise their relationship with my son, and also to ensure that there are no family politics around finances.

My Last Will and Testament is concise and to the point. It is signed and filed. I have no big assets to leave my son, but I do know that his education and special needs will be covered should anything happen to me.

Furthermore, during the course of two appointments, I spent about 3 hours questioning the Financial Planner, Lyle Maasdorp. I needed to understand that the service he was offering me was not coming from a place that, in the back of his mind, hoped for a sale. I mean really, I don’t have money, I just want to know that my son will be cared for should I die.

I was impressed by Lyle’s knowledge since some of my concerns and questions, relating to my Will, touched on the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 and the Natural Fathers of Children Born out of Wedlock Act 86 of 1997. Legal guardianship of my son is, after all, the main reason for me having a Last Will and Testament.

After concluding my Last Will and Testament we spoke about investments and whether my Life Cover and Educational Policies are sufficient. It is here that I realised how far I’ve come as an individual. I know without a doubt that 10 years ago I may have accepted some of his recommendations as a Financial Planner, whereas now I could say. “No, I’d rather keep this policy with the current institution as it is a safety net, instalments will remain covered should I die. However, I would like to use your alternative investment plan as an additional savings option.”

These discussions about policies and investments focussed on analysing whether my son would be provided for sufficiently financially.

However, my opinion is that I should ensure that policies cover my son’s educational and medical needs as well as his living expenses; BUT it should not be a huge nest egg that will make him feel as if he never have to work a day in his life. My parenting goal, in this lifetime, is to help guide him to be a self-sufficient, independent and confident individual who can stand on his own two feet.

Lyle Maasdorp, thank you for your compassionate service, professionalism and honesty. During our brief consultations it became quite clear that Financial Planning is not only about crunching the numbers, but your passion is further complemented by the emphasis that you place on the relationships that you develop with your clients.

On the somewhat morbid side, believe it or not, my son and I have already discussed what will happen to him should I die while he is still young. He is quite unique and feels more secure knowing that his mom has a “back-up” plan. We tick like that, we are a very exceptional mom-son team.

Now I know that this is a very long post, one which perhaps may have had you falling asleep on your keyboard or dropping your fone while nodding off at the 4th paragraph. It’s okay, I forgive you.