This weekend might be a great time to get your ducks in a row and write a Will!
DIY Wills are, however, dangerous and can be declared invalid. If you are a Legal Hero policyholder, rather contact your hero and ask for professional assistance.
1. What are the basic formalities?
a) Write/ type (and print out) your Will and sign at the end of the document;
b) Initial every other page if your Will is longer than a page;
c) Confirm your signature in the presence of two competent witnesses not younger than 14 years;
d) Ask your witnesses to sign the Will at the end of the document in the presence of each other and you (the testator);
e) If you are unable to sign the Will, a mark (such as an “x”) would suffice if the Will is executed (signed and witnessed) in the presence of a Commissioner of Oaths who will then attend to certify the Will as soon as possible.
2. Could a Will without a date be declared invalid?
A Will without a date is not necessarily invalid, but a date would make it easier to interpret your wishes should there be more than one will. Note: a new will does not necessarily revoke our previous Will/s. Wills are read in conjunction with one another as far as possible, unless you explicitly say ‘this Will revokes all previous Wills…’
3. Is it necessary for my two witnesses to actually read my Will?
No, it is not a requirement. The witnesses merely sign to advise that it is in fact your signature on the document/ they saw you sign the document.
4. Can my parents or spouse witness my Will?
Yes, BUT if they do, they will be unable to inherit in terms of the will. A beneficiary to your will may NOT sign as witness. If they do, they will be disqualified from inheriting. You should, however, inform your parents/ spouse/ attorney/ trusted party of your Will and where it is kept. He/she would need to supply the Will when notifying the Master of the High Court of your passing (the deceased estate must be reported within 14 days).
5. Explain to me why I need to appoint an executor in my Will?
The Executor is responsible for administering the estate. Duties include paying creditors of the estate (your debts), receiving claims (if you had debtors), pay the heirs to the estate, etc. whilst in constant communication with the Master of the High Court. If you do not nominate an Executor, the Master of the High Court may appoint an executor. An Executor may also not sign the Will as a witness. If so, he/ she may not act as the appointed Executor. An Executor may, however, inherit in terms of the Will.
Note: a will is presumed to be valid until the invalidity thereof has been proven on a balance of probabilities by the person alleging same. It is strongly advised that you seek professional assistance.