National Wills Week: Is Your Will Updated?

WE are all aware of the saying ‘nothing  is  certain except death and taxes’. Morbid as it might sound, it’s never a convenient ti me to start thinking about what will happen to your family or assets once you are no longer here. Drafting a will is something that everybody needs to prioritise at some stage and rather sooner than later, as we never know what the future holds. So many people – even famous musicians, actors, and athletes including Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse, Heath Ledger and Prince – failed to draft a will and their families are the ones who pay the price when they die.

“Property is the biggest asset you will ever own. Whether it’s new property you are purchasing and thinking of your first will, or an addition to your property portfolio where your current will just needs to be updated, having a will is non-negotiable” says Craig Hutchison, CEO Enge l& Völkers Southern Africa.


Here are a few guidelines to compiling your last will and testament to make more understandable
and a little less overwhelming:

Why Draft A Will?

A will brings clarity and certainty and allows you to determine who will benefit from your estate, giving you the opportunity to dispose of your assets according to your wishes.

Who Needs A Will?

It is a common misconception that you only need a will if you have a large number of valuable
assets. Any person older than 16 years who has assets, even if it is just a car or a bank account can compile a will. “It is particularly advisable to have a will if you own a business or overseas assets; if
you are married; divorced or have a life partner or if you have dependents such as minor children”, states Katherine Timoney, Candidate Attorney at Gillan & Veldhuizen.

What Happens When There Is No Will?

Christel Botha, Fiduciary Services Manager at Alexander Forbes states that with no will in place, there is a law that determines who will inherit from your estate (Intestate Succession Act). This may cause
inheritance to devolve to someone whom you may not have wanted to inherit from your estate. A spouse, for instance, will only be entitled to a child’s share or R250 000, whichever the greatest in cases where a spouse and children survives the deceased. The marital regime will also have an immense effect on how the estate is distributed.

Where Do I Start?

Start out by drafting a will. It is best to contact a professional which may include your financial adviser, a Trust Company, an attorney etc. Many people tend to use a template will which they may have obtained from the Internet which only allows for information to be completed, however, these kind of wills are not always in line with legislation and may leave your heirs with lots of challenges when the estate needs to be administered. What specifics needs to be included: Include as much as you can, it is always better to be over prepared than not at all. This includes property (investments/assets) and all assets and liabilities.

How Much Will It Cost?

A will can costs anything from nothing, to over R10 000, it depends on who draws up the will.

Who Should Keep Copies Of The Will?

It is important to keep the original will in a safe place as the Master of the High Court who oversees the
Executor will only accept an original will complying with all the statutory formalities of drawing a will.
Most attorneys have a securities safe-keeping facility that is indexed and fire proof. It is best that the testator retains a copy and leave a copy with someone they trust with clear instructions as tow here the original is located. The biggest difficulty that some encounter is that on the death the family cannot locate the will.

When And How Often To Update A Will?

Whenever there are any major changes in your life, your will should be top of mind. These include a marriage, the birth of a child, divorce, purchasing new property or the death of a beneficiary or executor.


  • Primarily the spouse and children of the deceased.
  • If a parent of minor children dies, without a will and the other parent is unable to provide care,
    the state will have the power to determine who will become the guardian of the children, and the
    property they will inherit.
  • If there is no spouse or children, the surviving parent(s) will benefit.
  • If the parents are predeceased, the closest blood relatives will benefit.
  • If no surviving blood relatives are found, the estate will be converted to cash and will be paid into the Guardians Fund.
  • If the money is not claimed by a person entitled thereto within 30 years, then the money is forfeited to the state