The Botanical Society of South Africa stands at the forefront of the struggle to preserve our rich diversity of plant life. Our members are passionate about this commitment and lend support in a variety of different ways, through subscriptions, donations and bequests.
Including a bequest to the Botanical Society of South Africa in your will is a way of making a substantial gift, without having to spend money now. Only when you no longer need it will the money be put to work for generations to come, to preserve the flora that has meant so much to you.
This could be your memorial: a living, green space that will endure way beyond your lifetime as a testimonial to your vision and hope for the future.
What is a bequest?
A bequest is simply a gift of money or property (real estate, motor vehicle, jewellery, antiques, etc.) that is left to an individual or charitable institution in your Will. Besides a set amount or specified item, you can also bequeath: A percentage of the estate -
- Often the better option, since it is difficult to predict what you estate will be worth at the time of your death. By giving a proportion of the total, you ensure that all your beneficiaries receive their fair share. The residue -- what is left over after all costs, debts and other bequests have been made. You can bequeth the entire residue to the Botanical Society of South Africa or apportion it among several worthy causes.
- Usufructuary right and bare dominium -- a system whereby a beneficiary given usufructuary right (your spouse or children) may use an asset (such as your house or a motor vehicle) during their lifetime, after which the bare dominium (i.e. ownership) passes to another beneficiary, such as the Botanical Society of South Africa.
- The proceeds of a life assurance policy -- often taken out in the early years to safeguard a young family and which may no longer be necessary once the children have grown up. You can also take out a new policy naming the Botanical Society of South Africa as the beneficiary.
If you do plan to make provision for the Botanical Society of South Africa in your will, please avoid placing restrictions on your gift which may prove inappropriate in the unpredictable future. It is far better to leave the management of your bequest to the good judgement of the organisation's leaders at the time.
How to make a bequest
If you add a bequest to an existing will, this can usually be done by means of a codicil, which is simply and additional form read in conjunction with the will. Like the will itself, the codicil needs to be correctly worded and witnessed by two people, neither of whom stand to benefit from either the will or the codicil.
On no account should you write additional instructions onto the original will or cross anything out -- you may invalidate the entire document.
If you wish to add a bequest to the Botanical Society of South Africa by means of a codicil, a form is available for you to download and print.
Please let the Society know if you have made, or are considering making, provision in your Will for The Botanical Society of South Africa by contacting Mrs Zaitoon Rabaney at Email firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone +27 21 797-2090 or Fax +27 21 797-2376 for further information.
What to do first
- Seek expert advice
Whereas it is possible to draft your own will, it is far safer to seek professional advice. Even the simplest wishes must be put into the proper legal language and correctly signed and witnessed.
A lawyer, accountant, financial advisor, bank or trust company can also help you plan your will in such a way as to minimize death duties and keep it flexible to allow for future events.
- Decide on an executor
If you want your spouse, grown up son or daughter or a personal friend to be your executor, bear in mind that they will need to be capable of taking charge of your financial affairs and dealing with the courts, tax office etc. If you think they may need help, consider appointing a trust company or other professional as a co-executor.
- Appoint a guardian for minor children
As with the choice of executor, you should check with the person beforehand to make sure that they are willing to perform this role.
- Draw up a list of your assets and liabilities
Your assets(real estate, motor vehicles, furniture, jewellery, savings, investments, pension benefits and life assurance) less your liabilities (mortgage bond, loans, HP and credit card debts, tax etc.) gives you the value of your estate.
- Decide who your beneficiaries will be
You must make fair provision for your immediate family, otherwise they may be able to challenge your Will in court. Apart from your spouse and children, you may also want to include good friends, other relatives, servants, your church and other institutions.
- Note your preference regarding funeral arrangements
Burial or cremation, instructions regarding the scattering of ashes or organ donation should be included in your Will.
How estate planning saves you money
If your net estate is worth over R 1 million* at the time of your death, your heirs will become liable for estate duty at the rate of 20%. However, there are several ways of reducing the amount of tax payable, including:
- Donating assets to potential heirs during your life time
Although such assets are deemed to form part of your estate for estate duty purposes, calculations are made on the value of the asset at the time it was donated, not at the time of your death. By donating assets such as real estate or an investment portfolio, which increase considerably in value over time, you can minimise the estate duty payable.
- Forming a trust
Another way of avoiding estate duty is to place certain assets in a trust, rather than in the hands of your beneficiaries.
- Making charitable donations
Money left to registered non-profit organisations in your Will is not only exempt from donations tax but, because it is subtracted from the net value of your estate before tax is calculated, can reduce the tax liability overall. Money which would otherwise go to the taxman will be used instead to support a worthwhile cause of your own choosing.
These simple examples illustrate the tax saving possibilities of careful estate planning. However the legal complexities are such that you should take expert advice, especially if your estate is substantial.
* Please consult your financial advisor for the current figure.
The "Heritage Circle"
You have read about the tax benefits of leaving a bequest to an organisation such as The Botanical Society of South Africa. But there is a much more important reason why you may wish to consider such as gift. Quite simply, it is the most enduring and far-reaching way of ensuring that your interest in, and concern for, our natural heritage lives on into the future.
If you decide to take this step, you will automatically be made a member of the Heritage Circle of The Botanical Society of South Africa, and exclusive group of people who feel as you do, that our efforts to preserve our rich diversity of flora -- much of it unique to southern Africa -- must continue beyond our own lifetime.
As a member of this select group, you will receive invitations to exclusive functions, where you will meet specialists in the field and mix with those who share your vision. You will also be presented with a beautiful photograph album of hand-made paper.
Please let the Society know if you have made, or are considering making, provision in your Will for The Botanical Society of South Africa by contacting Mrs Zaitoon Rabaney at Telephone +27 21 797-2090 or Fax +27 21 797-2376 for further information.
Doing so will not place you under any obligation and any information you provide to the Society will be treated in strict confidence -- but knowing your intentions helps the management to plan for the future, and gives them an opportunity of thanking you now for your generosity and inviting you to join The Heritage Circle.