By Jolané van der Walt (LLB) (LLM)
“The utility of living consists not in the length of days, but in the use of time; a man may have lived long, and yet lived but a little. Make use of time while it is present with you. It depends upon your will, and not upon the number of days, to have a sufficient length of life.” French Renaissance writer Michel de Montaigne (February 28, 1533–September 13, 1592).
It is natural to feel overwhelmed when discussing death and planning for what comes after death. Yet it is undeniable that the drawing up of a Will is a priority. Ensuring that you have a valid Will in place, will grant you (as a testator/ testatrix) the necessary peace of mind. We suggest that you take control of your estate and direct the way in which your assets have to be distributed after you pass on.
Why a Will is so important
- It provides you with full control on how and to whom your estate should be distributed;
- If you pass away without a valid Will in place, your estate will be distributed in terms of the law on intestate succession. This is undesirable as it may entail that some unwanted individuals benefit from your estate OR that some (whom you want to benefit) have no legal grounds to benefit from your estate;
- Having a Will in place provides relief and may lessen the anxiety experienced by your family members and loved ones. Your Will should clearly set out your last wishes;
- A Will may inform your family on whether you wish to be cremated or buried;
- You may appoint a guardian for your minor children and you may even make provisions for the establishment of a Trust;
- Important to note is that a Will is for anyone. Whether you only have a few valuable possessions or whether you are wealthy, it is never too early to draw up a valid Will.
The requirements for a valid Will, as set out in section 2 of the Will Acts, 7 of 1953:
- A Will must be in writing.
- The Will must be initialled by the testator/ testatrix (you) on each page as well as signed in full at the end of the document, the final page.
- The testator should sign the Will in the presence of 2 or more witnesses. These witnesses should be at least 14 years old when they sign the Will and be competent to give evidence in court. Note that a person who signed as a witness may not inherit in terms of that Will!
- The witnesses must also, in the presence of the testator and each other, sign the Will at the end of the document and not on each page.
The current COVID-19 pandemic really does put things into perspective. More than ever we are aware of our own mortality and of the mortality of those around us. Let’s plan ahead and get our affairs in order just to be safe, regardless of whether or not we are blessed to live until we are old and grey.
*Legal Hero Policyholders without a valid Will are urged to contact our offices for assistance.
Jolané van der Walt (LLB) (LLM) from Legal Hero