THE public can have a basic will drafted by an attorney free of charge during National Wills Week - September 17 to 21. If you are married, divorced or widowed recently, or you have started cohabitating with your partner or have bought new pro-perty, it is important that you have a will. Similarly, unmarried persons – particularly those who may have a number of people and extended family members who depend on them financially – should ensure they have a will in place, as seve-ral people could make a claim on their estates.“If you are a parent, a breadwinner, a homeowner and gene-rally want to ensure that your affairs are in order, it is important that you have a valid will drafted by a professional,” say Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) Co-Chairpersons, Mvuzo Notyesi and Ettienne Barnard.“A valid will allows you to state your last wishes, who should inherit your assets and property, to appoint an executor of your choice for your estate and also a guardian for your minor children.” Why an attorney? A practising attorney has the necessary knowledge and exper-tise to ensure that your will is va-lid by complying with all the legal requirements in the Wills Act and also that it complies with your wishes. An attorney can also advise you on any problem which may arise with your will and assist your executor. Often a will is not valid because the person who drafts it does not have the necessary legal knowledge to ensure that all the legal requirements of the Wills Act are met. These include the fact that the will must be in writing, it must be signed by the testator in the presence of at least two competent witnesses, and also signed by the witnesses.If you die without leaving a va-lid will, your assets will be distributed according to the provisions of the Intestate Succession Act. These provisions are gene-rally fair and ensure that your possessions are transferred to your spouse and children, and where applicable, to siblings, parents, and if required, then to the extended family in terms of degrees of relationships.What you should take to the Your ID document A list of what you own (including specific personal items that you wish to bequeath to specific people). Before you go to the attorney, think about: Who must get what? Who should be the legal guardians of your minor children (those under 18)? Who should be the executor of your will? This could be your attorney or a close fa-mily member or friend. If you decide on a family member or friend, it is advisable also to nominate the attorney as co-executor, as the attorney will deal with any legal issues. The contact details of attorneys participating in the National Wills Week project can be accessed on the LSSA website at www.LSSA.org.za. Alternatively, contact the Cape Law Society at 021 443 6700 or contact the Law Society of South Africa at 012 366 8800.