Why is a Will important?

Guardianship of your minor children, if any, might the most important reason to make a Will. It is important to nominate a person who you wish to become the guardian of your children should you and your spouse pass away. It is also advisable that you tell that person of your wishes.
Another important reason to make a Will is that it presents you with an opportunity to acknowledge and provide security for your loved ones and to provide gifts to charities close to your heart, should you wish to do so.

What happens if you fail to leave a Will?

If you fail to leave a Will or you leave an invalid Will, your estate will devolve in terms of the rules of intestate succession.
Here is a simple example of how intestate succession works: A deceased is survived by his/her spouse and three children. The estate is worth R 1 000 000, 00. A child's share of the estate will amount to R 250 000, 00. The surviving spouse will therefore inherit R 250 000, 00 and each child will receive R 250 000, 00 each.
Your minor children's inheritance will go into the Guardian's Fund, a state controlled body. It is a good idea to create a testamentary trust into which all minor children's inheritance is paid and which can be controlled by a person of your choice.

What happens if you do not amend your Will after divorce?

A bequest to your wife will not fall away upon divorce. A divorced person has three months after the divorce in which to amend their Will otherwise your divorced spouse will benefit as indicated in the Will.

Types of Wills

Standard: A Will made by one party.

Joint Will: A joint Will is made by two parties, usually spouses. The joint Will stipulates that in the event of one of the parties passing away, the estate will be left to the surviving party. The Will also stipulates what will happen to the estate when the surviving party passes away or if both parties pass away simultaneously.

Appointing an executor

Every deceased estate must have an executor. You may choose anyone you wish to, to be the executor. If the testator/testatrix fails to appoint an executor in his/her Will, the Master of the High Court will appoint an executor on your behalf and this can create in delay in the administration of your estate.

Special Bequests

Giving a special bequest to someone is one of the important reasons for leaving a Will. Here you can leave money to the charities that you wish to amongst other things. Please note that you must set out specific details so that your estate can devolve in the manner that you want it to.

Trusts

A testamentary trust derives from the valid Will of a deceased. A testamentary trust can provide a way for the minor children's inheritance to be protected until the minor children are capable of fending for themselves. There are no fees involved and the deceased's last Will serves as the trust document.

Who is a competent witness?

Any person aged 14 years and older who is competent at the time of signing and witnessing the execution of the Will. Competent means that they are able to give evidence in court should that be necessary. Please note that beneficiaries to the Will must not sign as a witness as they will then be disqualified from receiving any benefit from that Will.


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