Write your own Will
If your circumstances are simple, you can use Funeral Guide’s free will template to write your own will. If your circumstances are complex (with dependents, overseas assets, etc), you are advised to contact an attorney to draw up a will for you. When filling out the ‘Will Template‘ provided by Funeral Guide, read through the information on this page to ensure that you create a valid will. Also check out Wills FAQ. If your will is found to be invalid, your estate will devolve according to the rules of Intestate Succession.
Those outside of South Africa can use this template provided they get their completed will checked by local authorities to ensure the validity. Where we use an ‘identity number‘ in South Africa, other countries use ‘social security numbers’ or ‘national insurance numbers’, etc. If you are living outside of South Africa, please get your will checked by your local authorities after completing it. That is the only way to ensure that it is valid.
In order for a will to be valid it must comply with the following:
A will must be in writing, either typed or hand written. The will must be signed in the presence of at least two competent witnesses, present at the same time and in the presence of the testator. It must be signed on every page by the testator and witnesses. If any special bequests are made, the testator and the witnesses should sign in the margin next to those bequests. The date of the will is also important so that it can easily be established which will is the final will and testament. A line should be ruled through any remaining blank space, so nothing further can be fraudulently added to your will. Important note: Family members or anyone who stands to benefit from your will may not fill in the blanks in this document, and may not sign as witnesses.
Choosing your executor:
The person you nominate as your executor should be a trustworthy, solvent and responsible person who is likely to be alive at the time of your death, it could also be a legal firm or financial institution. You can choose a beneficiary as your executor provided they are competent, solvent and over 18 years of age. If your nominated executors are not experienced in estates, they can be assisted by an attorney. It is a good idea to ask the persons you propose to name as executors if they are willing to act as executors of your estate.
Exempting your executor from furnishing security:
Children and spouses are automatically exempt from furnishing security. In all likelihood the Master of the High Court will demand security where a person has not been exempted. It is important that you exempt your executor from furnishing security as it is difficult and sometimes costly for an executor to obtain a security bond for winding up an estate. Owing to the difficulty with security it is important that you choose your executor with great care. The only time you would omit the exemption from furnishing security is in a case where you do not trust your executor, in which case you should not appoint that person.
Taking Legal Advice:
It is always a good idea to get an attorney or legal advisor to check your will to ensure that your intentions are clearly communicated and that your will is legally compliant. Funeral Guide advises that one seeks legal advice in drafting a will if one has special circumstances, for example: dependents that require maintenance, handicapped dependents, overseas assets, if one is married or has a business. Claims for maintenance are regarded as a sort of debt owing by the estate and therefore have preference over legacies and other bequests. An antenuptial contract may contain a variety of successory pacts and testamentary dispositions which may be enforceable and have preference over a will. If married in community of property, each owns one undivided half-share of the joint estate, it is advisable to have a joint will drawn up.
Updating your will:
Your will should be reviewed every few years if circumstances have changed, for example, when you purchase a new property, have a child, or get divorced.