“Estate planning is an important and everlasting gift you can give your family. And setting up a smooth inheritance isn't as hard as you might think.” - Suze Orman
People do not always realise the importance of having a Valid Will, especially to make life easier for those you leave behind. Very often families and relationships are torn apart when a loved one passes away without having a valid will.
The importance of having a valid will is that it is a legal document which enables you to set out what happens to your assets in the event of death, as well as how your loved one will be taken care of, i.e. financially.
The basic formalities for a valid will are set out in the Wills Act 7 of 1953 as well as case law as the following:
- For a will to be valid it must be in writing;
- A will has to be signed by the testator;
- A will must be signed at the end of the document. If the will is set up in more than one page, it must be signed by the testator on every page. If the will is only a single page, the testator has to sign the end of the page;
- A will has to the signed by the testator in the presence of two competent witnesses. It is required that the witnesses both be present at the same time;
- The witnesses are recommended to sign the will on the last page and preferably each page;
- There are no legal requirements with regards to the date of a will, but it is highly recommended to date the will, in order to determine the last will of the testator, in the event of the testator having more than one will.
Failure to have a will, or a valid will, the deceased’s estate will be distributed in accordance to the Intestate Succession Act 81 of 1987. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you have a valid will to avoid such distribution.