Judgements and law amendments are opportunities to review your affairs

Do you keep abreast of the latest judgments, amendments of the law and the state budget, especially if you handle your own will and financial affairs? And if you make use of the services of a financial adviser, is he well-informed and does he use the opportunity to review your will and financial affairs?

Successful advisers are well aware of opportunities such as when someone starts working for the first time or starts a business, gets married, the birth of a child, divorce, obligations such as debt or maintenance, inheritances and retirement.

However, most top achievers go one step further. When they read or hear of interesting cases, they take the trouble of finding out more in order to determine whether the information might apply to their existing clients.

Capital gains tax, which was introduced on 1 October 2001, and subsequent related judgments could apply to you if you have bequeathed a loan account back to the borrower, or used the annual donations tax exemption to reduce a loan. Have you used the correct wording in your will or have you followed the correct procedure in the reduction of the loan?

The Civil Union Act that came into effect on 1 December 2006 applies inter alia to the Intestate Succession Act, the Wills Act and the Maintenance of Surviving Spouses Act. The definition of a spouse was amended in the Income Tax and Estate Duty Acts and also in the Pension Funds Act. It now includes partners of the same or opposite sex who live together permanently.

The new Children's Act came into force on 1 July 2007. One of the most important amendments is that the date on which a person attains majority was changed from 21 to 18 years. Does your will perhaps refer to minority and/or majority or to a specific age at which your children should inherit?

During the past five years important judgments have been passed on, for example, family trusts. Other amendments such as the replacement of Land Bank valuations with another method for estate duty purposes, the increase in the estate duty rebate, and the annual rebate on donations tax, play an important role in techniques to save estate duty.

Do obtain expert advice if you or your adviser is not well-informed of the latest developments.

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