Draw up a Will to ensure your belongings are distributed according to your wishes when you pass away
Did you know?
If you die without a Will your estate will be distributed in terms of the Intestate Succession Act. This Act provides that your belongings must be distributed to close relatives only, such as your spouse, children, grandchildren, parents and siblings.
Allowing your belongings to be distributed according to the Intestate Succession Act, may lead to someone who you specifically wanted to inherit some of your belongings not actually inheriting.
The risks of dying without a Will can be severe. Never has there been a more pertinent time to ensure that your affairs are in order and that you have a valid Will in place.
What is a Will?
A Will is a document in which a person ("testator”) makes sure that his/her belongings are distributed per his/her wishes after his/her death.
Who can make a Will?
Any person who is 16 years or older may make a Will, unless s/he is mentally incapable to appreciate the nature of making a Will. Assistance of a professional (like an attorney) can be obtained to draw up a Will.
What are the requirements for a valid Will?
A Will must be in writing. The testator and two witnesses must sign the Will in the presence of each other. It should be noted that a person who signs as a witness is disqualified from receiving any benefit from the Will.
If the Will consists of more than one page, each page must be signed by the testator and by the witnesses.
If the testator is not able to sign the Will (for example, where s/he cannot read or write), someone can sign the Will on his/her behalf or the testator can sign the Will by making a mark (like a thumbprint or a cross). A commissioner of oaths must be present when the testator makes the mark or someone else signs on behalf of the testator.
What are the basic elements that must be included in the content of the Will?
The Will must contain:
- a distribution of property;
- the extent of the interest in the property (full or limited ownership); and
- the identities of the heirs (the persons who must receive the property).
The Will can also make provision for the nomination of an executor and a legal guardian of the minor children of the testator; a testamentary trust; and a clause stating that all previous Wills are cancelled.
What will happen if a person dies without a Will?
According to the Intestate Succession Act, property will be distributed amongst the deceased’s spouse, children and family (if any) according to certain rules relating the order in which they will be entitled to inherit. If the deceased did not have a spouse, children or family, the property will be forfeited to the State.
Where must a Will be kept?
A Will should be kept in a place that is safe and where it can be easily found after the death of a testator. The testator must inform a reliable person of the whereabouts of his/her Will.
Click here to listen to a podcast on the importance of drawing up and what constitutes a valid Will, or download a Free ready to use Will template, add 071 640 0337 to your WhatsApp contacts and simply say “Hi” to start the conversation.
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