DEALING WITH MARRIAGE AND ESTATE PLANNING

a3It is important to understand the legal implications of the marital property regime, especially when drafting a Last Will and Testament and also when entering into a marriage, as the regime chosen by the estate planner is going to affect his/her assets.

The most important forms of marriage are: marriage in community of property, marriage out of community of property (without accrual), and marriage out of community of property (with accrual).

Marriage in community of property

1. There is no prior contractual arrangement, apart from getting married;
2. Spouses do not have two distinct estates;
3. There is a joint estate, with each spouse having a 50% share in each and every asset in the estate (no matter in whose name it is registered);
4. Applies to assets acquired before the marriage and during the marriage;
5. Should one spouse incur debts in his own name it will automatically bind his/her spouse, who will also become liable for the debt;
6. If a sequestration takes place (in the case of insolvency), the joint estate is sequestrated.

Marriage out of community of property without the accrual system

1. An antenuptial contract (ANC) is drawn up by an attorney (who is registered as a notary), before the marriage;

2. Where there is no contract, the marriage is automatically in community of property;

3. The values of each spouse’s estate on going into the marriage are stipulated in the contract;

4. A marriage by ANC means that all property owned by spouses before the date of the marriage will remain the sole property of each spouse;

5. Each spouse controls his/her own estate exclusively without interference from the other spouse, although each has a duty to contribute to the household expenses according to his/her means;

6. To allow for assets acquired by spouses during the marriage to remain the sole property of each spouse, the accrual system must be specifically excluded in the ANC.

Marriage out of community of property with the accrual system

1. The accrual system automatically applies unless expressly excluded in the antenuptial contract;
2. The accrual system addresses the question of the growth of each spouse’s estate after the date of marriage.

ESTATE PLANNING

Donations between spouses are exempt from donations tax and estate duty.

Marriage in community of property

1. In the event of the death of one spouse, the surviving spouse will have a claim for 50% of the value of the combined estate, thus reducing the actual value of the estate by 50%. The estate is divided after all the debts have been settled in a deceased estate (not including burial costs and estate duty, as these are the sole obligations of the deceased and not the joint estate).

2. When drafting a Last Will and Testament, spouses married in community of property need to be aware that it is only half of any asset that he or she is able to bequeath.

3. Upon the death of one spouse, all banking accounts are frozen (even if they are in the name of one of the spouses), which could affect liquidity.

4. Donations or bequests to someone married in community of property can be made to exclude the community of property; in other words, if the donor stipulates that the donation must not fall into the joint estate, then the donee can build up a separate estate. However, returns on such separate assets will go back to the joint estate.

Marriage out of community of property without the accrual system

Each estate planner (spouse) retains possession of assets owned prior to the marriage.

Marriage out of community of property with the accrual system

A donation from one spouse to the other spouse is excluded from the calculation of each spouse’s accrual; in other words, the recipient does not include it in his growth and the donor’s accrual is automatically reduced by the donation amount.

DIVORCE

In the event of divorce, the marriage will be dissolved by court decree, which will address such aspects as child maintenance, access, guardianship and custody, spousal maintenance, the division of assets, division of pension interests and so on.

COHABITATION AND DEFINITION OF “SPOUSE”

Cohabitation is defined as a stable, monogamous relationship where a couple who do not wish to or cannot get married, live together as spouses. The Taxation Laws Amendment Act has extended the definition of “spouses” to include “a same sex or heterosexual union which the Commissioner is satisfied is intended to be permanent”.

Many pieces of legislation, including the Pension Funds Amendment Act and the Taxation Laws Amendment Act, now define spouse to include a partner in a cohabitative relationship, the effects of which are that cohabitees will benefit from the Section 4(q) estate duty deduction in the Estate Duty Act, and the donations tax exemptions of the Income Tax Act.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

AN INTERVIEW WITH OUR BELOVED DIRECTOR, BELINDA

For this month’s newsletter article I decided to corner one of our firm’s directors during her busy schedule, to ask her a couple of questions.

Belinda Scholtz is not only a director at Schnetler’s Incorporated, but is also a conveyancing expert and notary. Here is what Belinda had to say during our interview.

Belinda, tell our readers a bit more about yourself – where did you grow up?

I grew up in Sea Point and attended Kings Road Junior & Ellerslie Girls High Schools. I have a passion for the sea, swimming, beaches, walking on the promenade and am a member of the Royal Cape Yacht Club. I enjoy going to the ballet and theatre and am an avid reader. I love to travel and have been to exotic places like China, Hong Kong, Egypt, Morocco, Europe and Vietnam is my next destination. I love animals and have been to Namibia and to the Kruger National Park. I also do ceramics in my spare time.

Why did you decide to become a lawyer?

While in matric my first choice was to be an air hostess as the thought of travel appealed to me. However, my guidance teacher persuaded me not to become a “glorified waitress”. I worked as a conveyancing secretary for 10 years before deciding to study law part-time through Unisa. I decided to become a lawyer as I found law fascinating and very interesting.

Except for being a Director at Schnetler’s, you are also a very busy lady doing Conveyancing. What about Conveyancing do you enjoy most?

Purchasing a property is usually the largest investment that a person will make during their lifetime and I enjoy assisting both buyers and sellers in an endeavour to make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible. I endeavour to provide an excellent service to our clients.

What would you say is the biggest challenge in your working environment?

The sourcing of new clients and working in a very competitive milieu.

If you could choose all over again, would you change anything about your chosen career path?

I would have loved to become a chef. I am currently doing a cooking course at Giggling Gourmet and thoroughly enjoying it.

What advice do you have for young attorneys?

To be dedicated in their chosen field within the law and to be passionate about their job

Look out for my next article when I will be conducting an interview with our male director, Dave Artlett – one of the few thorns amongst the roses at our firm! Until next time.

Compiled by: Annerine du Plessis

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

INHERITANCES AND TAX

IS TAX IMPOSED ON SUMS OF MONEY WHICH HAVE BEEN INHERITED?

Any asset which is attained by an heir to a deceased estate is termed as a ‘capital receipt’ and is not included in the heir’s gross income. Thus, tax is not payable by an heir who receives an inheritance from a deceased estate. Further, an heir to a deceased estate is not liable for payment of Capital Gains Tax (CGT). Any CGT which would be due by the estate is payable before the inheritance is transferred to the beneficiaries. As mentioned above, an asset does not give rise to a capital gain at the time of its inheritance – any capital gain or loss is only worked out once the asset is ultimately sold or disposed of in any other manner.

WHAT IS ESTATE DUTY?

During a person’s lifetime, all one’s income is taxable, that is, up until one’s date of death. After a person’s death, a new taxable entity is formed, which is called an “estate”. Every death must be reported to SARS, even if the estate is not liable for the payment of ‘Estate Duty’.

The estate of a deceased individual is subject to an amount of 20% Estate Duty. This percentage is only imposed once a deduction of R3.5 million against the net value of the estate has been taken into account. To illustrate this, see the worked example below:

Net value of estate:                                                                         R4 million
Estate duty only dutiable on the amount exceeding: R3.5 million
Amount exceeding R3.5 million:                                             R500 000.00
20% of R500 000.00:                                                                     R100 000.00

Thus, the executor of the estate will be responsible for paying the amount of R100 000.00 to South African Revenue Service (SARS) in Estate Duty.

Estate Duty is due to SARS within one year of date of death, or 30 days from date of assessment if assessment is issued within one year of date of death. Currently, interest is charged at 6% p.a. on late payments.

Compiled by: Laura Ames

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

YOUR WILL – AN IMPORTANT DOCUMENT

a4Life is unpredictable, therefore we advise our clients to lose no time in drawing up their will and planning their estate. Below are important reasons why this should be one of your top priorities.

 

Q: Why should I have a will?

A: A will enables you to name your heirs. Should you die without a will (intestate) your assets will be divided according to the Intestate Succession Act. That may advantage people whom you did not wish to name as heirs.

Q: Who is allowed to sign your will as witness?

A: Your will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses, who also sign in each other’s presence. Only persons older than 14 years are qualified to sign as witnesses.

Q: What is the cost of Executor’s fees?

A:The maximum remuneration payable to an Executor is determined by law and is currently fixed at 3.5% of the total gross estate value. Executor’s fees should, however, be negotiated with the person who has been appointed as Executor of your will.

Q: How often should I revise my will?

A:  It is recommended that wills be revised at least every 2 years. It is also important to review your will after events like marriage, birth, divorce or the purchase of property.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)