Viv Greene Attorneys

Wills Attorneys in Pietermaritzburg

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By having a valid will drafted, you can ensure that your personal property and possessions are divided according to your wishes. There are several different types of wills, however, the four most common wills are: simple wills, testamentary trust wills, joint wills and living wills.

Simple Wills

These are often used when all that is needed is mere direction as to how to distribute simple assets from the estate to the beneficiaries. As long as the nature of the assets is uncomplicated, a simple will is more than likely good enough to do the job.
This will is FREE provided that we are appointed as the executor. 
a copy of a will document

Testamentary Trust Wills

This will differs as it includes provisions that place a portion of your estate into a trust. Based on the terms of the testamentary trust, your assets are then distributed to your beneficiaries through a trustee who controls those assets.

Joint Wills

These are often used by spouses who intend to leave their property to one another. The surviving testator will inherit everything from the deceased spouse’s estate. When the surviving testator passes away, the remaining estate will be distributed to the couples chosen beneficiaries.

Living Wills

The purpose of this will is entirely different to the aforementioned wills. The purpose of this will is to provide detailed instructions about the type of medical treatment or life-saving measures you want to be used should you become unable to communicate those wishes for yourself.
A man in a suit signing a will document
a lman in a suit stamping will document

Requirements for a will to be valid

In order for any Will to be valid and accepted by the Master of the High Court, it has to comply with the requirements set out in Section 2 of the Wills Act 7 of 1953. The requirements are as follows:
1-The person must be over the age of 16 years.
2-The will must be in writing.
3-Each page of the will must be signed by the testator and two competent witnesses.
Your will must also include your full name and ID number, details of your assets, names of your beneficiaries, how you wish to distribute your assets, and the name of the executor. Your executor can be a lawyer, financial advisor or even a trusted friend. However, your executor cannot be a beneficiary. Your executor is paid a fee which you can specify in your will – this fee may not be more than 3.5% of
your total assets.
Whilst you can draw up a will yourself without expert help, this is only advisable if your financial affairs are straightforward. If you have an extensive property, investment profile, have children under the age of 18 or special needs dependents, you should get a professional who is experienced in drafting complex wills to draw up your will.
Without a valid will, your assets are distributed according to the laws of intestate succession, which might leave your loved ones without access to the funds for months or even years.
Remember, a valid will means your loved ones have one less thing to worry about
a man in a suit signing will testament document on a table

Frequently asked Questions about Wills & Estates in South Africa

  • 1. What will happen if I die without having drafted a will?

    Not having a will means that certain laws will regulate who the beneficiaries of your estate will be. A will specifies chosen beneficiaries and avoids complex problems.

  • 2. Can I draw up my own will without seeking professional legal advice?

    Yes you can but it is best to leave it to the professionals as there are many legal formalities that must be complied with in order for it to be valid.

  • 3. At what age should I consider drafting a will?

    Anyone aged 16 or older can draft a will provided they are mentally capable at the time to do so.

  • 4. Is a handwritten will legal in South Africa?

    Yes, a handwritten will is legal in South Africa provided it is legible and free of any errors. It should also be signed by the testator or testatrix and two independent witnesses.

  • 5. What makes a will legally invalid?

    If provisions in your will are inserted fraudulently, under coercion or undue influence, it is not legally valid. If there are no witnesses present, your will is not valid.

  • 6. How do I certify a will in South Africa?

    Each of the pages of your will need to be signed and certified by a commissioner of oaths. Testators must make a mark or thumbprint in the presence of at least two competent witnesses as well as the commissioner of oaths.

  • 7. How much does it cost to draw up a will in South Africa?

    Many legal practitioners offer free options provided they are appointed as the executor. They will then be paid a fee which you can specify in your will. This fee may not exceed the prescribed tariff of 3.5% of your total assets.

  • 8. Where should I keep my will?

    Because a copy of your will is not deemed a valid document, you need to ensure that your signed, original will is kept safe by a trustworthy person or institution.

  • 9. Can I amend my will?

    If you want to make a minor change to your will or add something, then you can make use of a codicil. This is an annexure that supplements or allows you to amend an existing will.

  • 10. Can my will be contested?

    Yes it can. There are various reasons why someone would want to contest a will. It can be contested on the grounds that the document and/or the testator’s signature was forged. It could also be disputed by family if they have suspicions regarding heirs who are set to benefit or if there was a failure to meet the necessary formalities.

  • 11. Can my immovable property offshore be covered in my South African will?

    Fixed assets pose a problem as they are subject to the laws of the country where they are located. It is advisable to have your foreign will drafted by an expert on the law in which your assets are situated.

  • 12. Who is not able to inherit from a will?

    Witnesses to a will are not permitted to inherit from the deceased’s estate. Anyone found to be responsible for the death of the deceased. Any person who writes a will or any part thereof, on behalf of the testator will not be able to inherit.

  • 13. Can a minor inherit immovable property?

    Yes they can with the assistance of their legal guardian specified by you in your will or a guardian appointed by the courts. The guardian will be responsible for administering the property until the child reaches the age of majority.

  • 14. Is a one-page will sufficient?

    One-page wills, although better than no will at all, seldom make provision for a testamentary trust to be formed in the case where a minor inherits. Provisions must be stipulated otherwise the minor’s inheritance will be paid into the Guardian’s Fund.

  • 15. What is the Guardians Fund?

    It is a fund that receives and manages money on behalf of a person who is legally incapable of doing it themselves. This includes any inheritance intended for a minor beneficiary

  • 16. What should I consider when drafting my will?

    Ambiguity in your will can lead to confusion regarding specific request. Various factors need to be considered when drafting your will. These include estate duty implications in your estate. What capital gains tax would your estate have to pay? Whether or not your family will have enough cash to keep them going until your estate is wound up.

  • 17. What is a joint will?

    A joint will is a document that contains the wills of 2 persons. These wills are common among married couples who intend to leave their property to one another.

  • 18. What is a testamentary trust will?

    This will includes provisions that place a portion of your estate into a trust.

  • 19. What is a living will?

    This will is to provide detailed instructions about the type of medical treatment or life-saving measures you want to be used should you become unable to communicate those wishes for yourself.

  • 20. What is a simple will?

    Also known as a basic will, this is the most common type of will. In this will you give direction as to how to distribute simple assets from the estate to your beneficiaries.

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