Plan, prepare your estate

18 Sep, 2022 - 00:09 0 Views
Plan, prepare your estate

The Sunday Mail

Legal Matters with Arthur Marara

One of my desires is to write on things that affect most of us on a daily basis. These can sometimes be very uncomfortable topics, but we need to talk about them. One such issue is that of estate planning. It involves a subject many people dread to talk about – death.

People die, and they do so daily. I had the opportunity to speak for an umbrella body that represents funeral assurers in Zimbabwe, and one thing you will appreciate while sitting through the proceedings is the reality of death.

What is, however, worrying is the state  many people are leaving their affairs. The Master’s Office is daily faced with families that come seeking assistance to administer the estates of their loved ones.

A number of times, not all estates will be characterised by peace during the administration.

All this could be prevented if someone had taken time to sit down and plan their estate. This conversation is, thus, very important for everyone who has some form of estate of substance. People rarely fight when there is nothing. They usually fight if they think that there is something,  and, sadly, even in instances when there is nothing but they are entertaining the thought that there is something. That is why you need to put everything into writing.

Time for truth

If you were to drop dead NOW, how will life be for your survivors and dependents? This is the question that many of us are not applying our minds to yet it is the reality of avoiding it that often plagues the survivors. Whatever you are doing, I want you to stop for a minute and seriously think about it, and ask yourself these questions:

◆ Are you sure your family and business are strong enough to continue life without you?

◆ Are you positive that your family is well- covered and well-prepared for life after you?

The greatest gift you can give to your children and family is to prepare them for your absence. One day you will surely not be here.

You do not have tomorrow

Who told you that you will be there tomorrow? I am not being negative. I am being practical.

Have you ever had the experience of seeing a person and after some hours you are told they are dead. If you have, you are not alone. I have had several such experiences this year alone. Healthy people lose their lives in our faces.

There are several people who are critically ill, who are predeceased by many people who appeared ‘healthy’.  That’s why we often ask “What happened?” every time a person dies. We should learn from this and properly plan our affairs.

You may want to cry about it, you will die. We will all die, whether poor, or rich, powerful or weak, slow or fast. We will all die. In reality, no one wants to die. Steve Jobs later on said, “No one wants to die.


Plan your estate

Interestingly, lawyers make money from drafting “complex wills” for clients yet they die without even writing a simple will for themselves. I know of several. They make money in estate matters with heavy fights, yet find no wisdom in planning their own estates. There are so many people who are dying intestate as we speak right now.

There are two possible scenarios which might explain why people are not planning their estates. It’s either you are too busy to sit and down and do your estate or there is no estate to plan.

The third one borders on lack of seriousness. In the first scenario my advice is simple, do not be too busy to sit down and plan your estate. In the second scenario you may need to read my articles that I publish in the Business Weekly or my shows on Star FM on how you can develop yourself.

Inheritance fights can be seriously nasty and at times they can even be bloody. The people who win in inheritance fights are lawyers. Never be fooled for once. Your disorder may cause someone to make a fortune. Wise up and plan. There are people who will never look for you during your lifetime, but they will only feature when you die to claim their “share”.

Have a Will and/Family Trust in Place

This may not be the first-time hearing about Wills and Family Trusts. Do the responsible thing and write a will for yourself. If you cannot do it, get the services of a lawyer to assist you with this process. Your will has to be properly written because it can only work when you are dead. You cannot afford any mistakes. You can also pursue an option of family trusts in order to protect your estate.

Did you know?

There is a list of some celebrities who died intestate i.e. without leaving a will or any testamentary disposition. Prominent examples, include the famous musician Prince who died in 2016, and left behind an estate estimated to be around $300 million. He had no will with all his wealth. The estate is yet to be finalised. There are even more examples of people who died intestate, Amy Winehouse is one of them. Bob Marley also died intestate, and 30 years later after his death, his family members were still suing each other arising from estate disputes.  What this shows you is that their houses were not in order.


You can have a will that will ensure that your executor has clarity of instructions on how your estate will be distributed. You also need to pay attention to tax implications when drafting and preparing your will. You can also set up a family trust as part of your estate planning mechanisms. Protect your loved ones through proper estate planning.


LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The material contained in this post is set out in good faith for general guidance in the spirit of raising legal awareness on topical interests that affect most people on a daily basis. They are not meant to create an attorney-client relationship or constitute solicitation. No liability can be accepted for loss or expense incurred as a result of relying in particular circumstances on statements made in the article/post. Laws and regulations are complex and liable to change, and readers should check the current position with the relevant authorities before making personal arrangements.


Arthur Marara is a corporate law attorney practicing law in Harare, Zimbabwe. He is also a notary public and conveyancer. He is also passionate about labour law, commercial, and family law and promoting legal awareness and access to justice. He writes in his personal capacity. You can follow him on social media (Facebook Attorney Arthur Marara), or WhatsApp him on +263780055152 or email [email protected]


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