It is National Wills Week this week, and attorneys are providing their services for free to draft wills.
It’s estimated that nearly 75% of South Africans who are employed – do not have wills, according to a survey conducted by the master of the high court last year.
National Wills Week, which ends 17 September, is encouraging South Africans to draw up a will to leave a legacy for their loved ones – without any nasty squabbling once they’ve passed away.
And you don’t need to be wealthy to have a will.
“If you have property – no matter how big or small – and minor children, you should have a will,” says attorney Tebello Motshwane, managing director at Collective Intelligence Legal Consultants.
A will, she explains, “is a written legal document which states who must inherit what in the event of your death”.
He adds that apart from having a will to decide who will inherit your property, it’s vital that parents with children younger than 18 also use it to appoint legal guardians for their children.
“Having a will in place gives your loved ones peace of mind because they will know exactly what your last wishes are and they will know exactly which heir is to inherit which specific belongings or property.”
If you die without a will “your assets will be distributed following the laws of intestate succession, which means that people who you did not necessarily want to benefit, will inherit from your estate”, Tebello explains.
The master of the court has a set formula for these situations, and a person’s estate, or belongings, are divided among their surviving spouse, children, parents and siblings.
You can draft your own will but Tebello says it’s probably wiser to have an attorney do it for you, to ensure that it is valid in terms of the Wills act.
Details of immovable property, such as land, houses or buildings; and movable property, which includes any other personal property.
Details of which heir will inherit which assets.
Details of an elected executor of your will, which can be a relative or friend, as long as they are over 16 years old.
Details of elected guardians for children under 18.
A list of attorneys participating in National Wills Week and drafting wills at no charge can be found here.