Organising a will ensures there are no competing claims on your estate when you pass away and your intentions to your dependents are followed.
The Law Society of SA’s (LSSA) National Wills Week campaign presents the ideal opportunity to have a basic will drafted.
Members of the public will be able to have a basic will drafted by an attorney free of charge during the LSSA National Wills Week from September 12 to 16.
Attorneys’ firms throughout the country are participating in the campaign.
The contact details and addresses of all participating attorneys can be accessed here.
Once you have located a law firm closest to you, give them a call and set up an appointment directly with them.
What you should provide to the attorney for your will to be drafted:
• Your identity document.
• A list of what you own (including specific personal items you wish to bequeath to specific people).
Before consultation with your attorney, think about:
• Who must get what?
• Who should be the legal guardians of your minor children (those under 18)?
• Who should be the executor of your will? This could be your attorney, a close family member or friend. If you decide on a family member or friend, nominating the attorney as coexecutor is advisable as the attorney will deal with legal issues. The executor must be approved by the master of the high court.
Why should an attorney draft your will?
A practising attorney has the necessary knowledge and expertise to ensure your will is valid by complying with all the legal requirements in the Wills Act and that it complies with your wishes.
An attorney can advise you on any problem that 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 all the legal requirements of the Wills Act are met. These include that the will must be in writing, must be signed by the testator in the presence of at least two competent witnesses and 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 your possessions are transferred to your spouse and children, and where applicable, to siblings, parents, and if required, to the extended family in terms of degrees of relationships and those who were dependent on you for financial support.
These issues may arise if you die without leaving a will:
• Your assets may not be left to the person of your choice.
• It can take a longer time to have an executor appointed. The appointed executor may be somebody you may not have chosen yourself.
• There could be extra and unnecessary costs.
• There could be unhappiness and conflict among family members because there are no clear instructions on how to distribute your assets.