'If you are a parent, a breadwinner, a homeowner and generally want to ensure that your affairs are in order, it is important that you have a valid will drafted by a professional. A valid will allows you to state your last wishes, who should inherit your assets and property, to appoint an executor of your choice for your estate and also a guardian for your minor children,' say Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) Co-Chairpersons Busani Mabunda and Richard Scott.
If you were married, divorced or widowed recently, or you have started cohabitating with your partner or have bought new property, you must have a will. Similarly, unmarried persons - particularly those who may have a number of people and extended family members who depend on them financially - should ensure they have a will in place, as several people could make a claim on their estates.
During National Wills Week from 14 to 18 September 2015, attorneys participating in the National Wills Week initiative will display posters with their contact details so that members of the public can make appointments with attorneys in their area. In addition, the contact details of all participating attorneys can be accessed on the LSSA website at
; or by contacting the relevant provincial law society (see below).
What you should take to the attorney for your will to be drafted:
Before you go to the attorney, think about
Why should an attorney draft your will?
A practising attorney has the necessary knowledge and expertise to ensure that your will is valid by complying with all the legal requirements in the Wills Act and also that it complies with your wishes. An attorney can also advise you on any problem which may arise with your will and assist your executor. Often a will is not valid because the person who drafts it does not have the necessary legal knowledge to ensure that the all the legal requirements of the Wills Act are met. These include the fact that the will must be in writing, it must be signed by the testator in the presence of at least two competent witnesses, and also signed by the witnesses.
What could happen to your estate if you die without a valid will?
If you die without leaving a valid will, your assets will be distributed according to the provisions of the Intestate Succession Act. These provisions are generally fair and ensure that your possessions are transferred to your spouse and children, and where applicable, to siblings, parents, and if required, then to the extended family in terms of degrees of relationships.
But, the following problems may arise if you die without leaving a will: