Is Your Last Will and Testament Up To Date? | Legal Articles


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Is Your Last Will and Testament Up To Date?

In South Africa, it is a well-known fact that more than 70% of the people do not have a will, or their will is out of date or no longer relevant. Many people spend their lives building up assets, only to have the whole process undermined by neglecting to have a will, or having one that does not reflect their wishes when they are no longer around.

Drafting your last will and testament

What is a last will and testament?

Someone, many years ago, said that a will is your last love letter to your family. Technically it is your instructions to the executor (the person who is in charge of winding up the estate) telling him or her what to do with your assets.

A will is at least a one-page document that has to be signed by you and two witnesses. It is important to remember that your executor needs the original will, so when drawing up your will, ensure that the original is kept in a safe place and that at least two people know where it is. 

What happens if you don't have a will?

If you do not have a will, your estate will be handled according to the law of intestate succession. This law helps to determine which beneficiary gets what from your estate. However, your assets may not be distributed the way you want them to be.

For example; you may be living with a partner for twenty years, without getting married. Your partner might not be allowed to remain on your property after you die. Another factor to consider is that the Master of the Supreme Court takes over the management of your estate until it is wound up. For many people, this can be a nightmare.

A will should provide the following:

  • Who you want to inherit the residue of your estate. 
  • Who you want to take charge of your affairs in the event of a dispute arising from a will. 
  • A will can make sure that your special requests are taken care of. 
  • You can also create trusts in your will, for example, a trust or trusts for your children. 
  • You can direct how your minor children's affairs are managed until they reach majority. 
  • Determine your preferential funeral arrangement. 
  • You can even choose to disinherit an heir, should you so wish.

Who can draw up a will?

Anyone can draw up a will. It is also possible to buy off-the-shelf wills from most stationary shops. These wills have been drawn up by attorneys and are in a standard format. If you have a complex estate with substantial assets then it is perhaps best to consult an attorney or a specialist who deals with these matters.

However, just remember that a beneficiary of the will cannot be a signatory to the will, nor can the executor. Many wills have been rejected on this basis, so take care that it is done correctly.

Van Deventer & Van Deventer Incorporated offers its clients assistance with the drawing up and safekeeping of wills, estate planning and the winding up of deceased estates. In addition, we also assist clients with establishing local and offshore trusts. As your financial advisors, we also have a duty to ensure that your wills are up to date and correctly reflects your last wishes.

During the course of the year, we will be approaching ALL our clients asking for copies of their wills and if necessary, assisting with the drawing up of a new one and offering our services as executors of the estate. This is part of the holistic service we wish to offer our clients and provides our clients with peace of mind that their affairs are in order.

If you need assistance with the drawing up of your will, whether you are an existing client of Van Deventer & Van Deventer Incorporated or not, contact us today!


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