Making a Will
When you die, your estate is divided between your family or the people that you want to have inherit from you. The estate consists of your personal property and possessions, as well as any money or other assets owed by you.
Who your property is passed on to depends on whether you have a valid will or not. If you have a valid will then the property is divided according to your wishes. If you die without a will (called intestate) then your property will be divided up amongst your immediate family according to the laws of intestate succession.
Creating a valid will
If you're older than 16, you can make a will stating who you want your property to go to when you die. For your will to be valid it needs to be made in the proper way. You also need to be mentally competent; this means that you must be able to understand the consequences of creating a will, you must be in a reasonable state of mind and remember what you own. For your will to be valid it needs to be drawn up correctly.
You’ll need to be 16 years or older and make sure that:
In your will you can:
An executor is the person who will make sure that your property is divided according to your wishes, as set out in your will. The executor also settles your outstanding debts. If you don't choose an executor, the court will appoint someone to be the executor; this is usually a family member.
You can get a lawyer to help you to draw up a will or you can get an easy-to-complete will form from a stationary shop.
Need help drafting a will? Get tips and legal guidance on how to make a start.
Divorce and your will
It’s important to amend your existing will within 3 months of your divorce unless you want your former spouse to inherit. If you don’t change your will after your divorce, your former spouse will inherit according to your existing will.
Make a file
This could include:
Note: this isn’t a binding legal document, but it explains why you put something in the will.
Make sure that you store all documents in a safe place like a bank or a secure safe at your house.
Dying without a will
If you don't have a valid will when you die, your property is divided according to the rules set out by the law. These provisions are generally fair and ensure 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.
Some problems may arise if you die without leaving a will.
This can include:
Different rules apply under customary law.
National Wills Week 2020
You can book an appointment with a participating lawyer nearest to you.
If you have an appointment with an attorney during National Wills Week, please take the following with you:
|Government Body:||(The Government of South Africa)|
- Deceased Estates: Wills (Public Information)