Is my will valid?

Photograph of Jeanne Mance's will (1672), copi...

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The basic formalities required for the execution of a Will are as follows:

The document must be signed by the testator.

The Will must be signed at the end of the document (as opposed to the bottom of the page). This simple provision, which often trips up an inexperienced testator, has led to many Wills being declared invalid.

If the Will consists of a single page, it must be signed at the end of that page.

If the Will consists of more than one page, each page must also be signed by the testator.

Recent amendments to the Act brought about certain relaxations in the execution of Wills, one of which was that the definition of the term ‘signed’ is not limited to refer only to a full signature, but also includes the testator’s initials.

The testator must sign his Will (or confirm his signature) in the presence of two or more competent witnesses, who must be present at the same time.

The witnesses must also sign the Will, although, in their case, they need merely to sign at the end of the document and not on each page if the document consists of more than one page.

The witnesses must sign in the presence of each other and the testator.

For best practice, we recommend that the witnesses sign each page, as well as at the end of the document. We also recommend that all parties sign in full on each page.

It is not necessary to have an attestation clause or even to date a Will for it to be valid. However, it is important to date a Will because it makes it easier to determine the sequence, if the testator has left behind more than one valid Will, and so, to ascertain whether it is the Last Will and Testament or whether the document has since been revoked, or is revoking another Will.

The Act determines that

via Is my will valid? – Lexology.

What happens if I die without a will?

An obvious starting point in our first of a new series of Trusts and Estates Alerts, is to consider the importance of having a well-constructed, valid Will.    

If you, at the time of your death, have no Will, or your Will is invalid or does not deal with your entire estate, you are said to have died intestate. It is estimated that more than 50% of South Africans die intestate every year

Despite the horror stories, if you die without a Will, your assets are not forfeited to the state, however the distribution thereof is regulated by statute as opposed to your own directions, as you would have set out in your Will.

The relevant Act that regulates the devolution of your assets should you die without a Will is known as the Intestate Succession Act, 81 of 1987.

The Act sets out a fixed formula that is applied to determine who inherits your estate and in what proportion.

The Act is based on – excluding benefits to a spouse – a system of passing benefits to the blood family of the deceased. The general principle being that those family members closest to the deceased in terms of the bloodline, stand to inherit first.

So for example, if the deceased is married, but does not have children, the spouse will inherit the entire estate. 

If however the deceased does not have a spouse at the time of his death, but has children, the children will inherit the entire estate in equal share.

via What happens if I die without a will? – Lexology

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