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What is a Will?

A will, also known as a testament, is a document in which a person sets out what must happen to their estate when they die.  A person can also nominate the person or persons, known as executors, who should administer their estate on their death. A will is a specialized document, which should preferably be drawn up by an expert like an attorney, trust company etc. 

Why should you have a Will?

When you die, your estate is divided between your family or the people that you want to have inherit from you. The estate consists of your personal property and possessions, as well as any money or other assets owned by you. Having a Will allows you to decide who should be the beneficiaries of your estate once you die. In your will, you can also appoint the person who will administer your estate.

Making a will

Who is competent to make a will?

The person who draws up a will is known as the testator (male) or testatrix (female).  All persons 16 years and older are competent to make a will in order to determine how their estate should devolve upon their death, unless they were mentally incapable of appreciating the consequence of their actions at the time of making the will.

Who is competent to act as a witness to a will?

All persons of 14 years and over are competent to act as a witness to a will, provided that at the time they witnessed the will they were not incompetent to give evidence in a court of law. A beneficiary to a will should not sign as a witness, because he/she will then be disqualified from receiving any benefit from that will. There are some exceptions to this rule. Consult your legal representative for more information in this regard.

Dying without a Will

If you don’t have a valid will when you die, your property is divided according to the rules set out by the law. These provisions are generally fair and ensure 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. Some problems may arise if you die without leaving a will.

This can include:

  • Your assets not being left to the person of your choice.
  • It can take longer to have an executor appointed.
  • The executor who’s appointed may be somebody you may not have preferred.
  • There could be extra and unnecessary costs.
  • There could be unhappiness and conflict among members of your family because there are no clear instructions on how to distribute your assets.

What you need to know when drafting a will?

  • All persons (16 years and older) are competent to make a will
  • A will must be in writing. It can be written by hand, typed or printed. (note that a person who wrote the will in his/her own handwriting (and his/her spouse) may not be one of your heirs or the executor in the will)
  • The signature of the testator/testatrix must appear on every page of the will as well as at the end of the will (This signature must be made in the presence of two or more competent witnesses)
  • Any person of 14 years and above is competent to act as a witness (note that a witness and his/her spouse) may not be one of your heirs or the executor in the will)
  • A witnesses must attest the last page of the will in the presence of the testator/testatrix and of each other
  • You must include all details of the assets you want to bequeath as well as the names and details of your heirs
  • Decide who should be your executor, and indicate this in your will (note that your nominated executor (and his/her spouse) may not be one of the witnesses to the will)
  • Decide and indicate what should happen to the inheritance of a minor beneficiary (e.g. Must it be paid into a trust, the Guardian’s Fund etc?)
  • If you are the sole guardian of your minor child, indicate who should be appointed as the guardian of your child after your death.
  • Ensure that your original signed will is kept safe by a trustworthy person or institution, as a copy of a will is not deemed a valid will.

Individual Will                          R400.00

Joint Will                                    R600.00