Shereen was admitted as an Attorney in 1993. For the last 15 years, she has practised exclusively in the field of family law. Her Expertise includes: divorce law, parenting disputes, relocation applications, surrogate parenting agreements, claims in respect of children and Hague applications. She is both an experienced litigator and a mediator and facilitator. She is, as a result, particularly skilled in mediation support and strategic advice. Shereen often deals with complex proprietary disputes and advises on the formation and dissolution of relationships. These matters often have international legal implications. Shereen has been a member of the Cape Law Society’s Specialist Family and Gender Committee for the last 12 years. Through her position on the committee, she is involved in the development of Family Law in South Africa. She is a member of STBB's Executive Committee.

Thought of the Week | Living Annuity: Part Of Accrual In A Divorce?

Simply stated, a living annuity is an investment account or portfolio of investments from which a person can withdraw an income. Living annuities are usually purchased when people retire – they invest their retirement annuities, provident funds and other retirement funds in living annuities and their retirement income is drawn from the living annuity investment. SARS limits the income withdrawals to a range between 2,5% and 17,5% of the invested capital per year and income is usually drawn in monthly payments, like a pension, although other options exist.

Is this an asset in a person’s estate so that it is included in the calculation of accrual where divorce proceedings allows one spouse to share in the accrual in the other spouse’s estate?

No, said the Gauteng High Court earlier this month, although the monthly or periodical payment of the annuity can be taken into account to assess future maintenance of the other spouse. This means that it can make a big difference if you get divorced before retirement as opposed to afterwards. A pension interest forms part of an estate for divorce purposes and will be taken into account in calculation an accrual claim or dividing a joint estate. However once the pension interest matures and is invested in a living annuity, at best it is only taken account of as income and is not an asset for divorce purposes.

Ensuring a fair outcome on divorce, is often tricky. For assistance in divorce matters, contact our Family Law Department on