Category Archives: Wills & Trusts

Owning property without a will

If you die without a will, an administrator will have to be appointed to administer your estate which will be distributed according to the laws of intestate succession. As such, your assets may not be distributed as you would have wished. It also means that the process will be delayed and that there will be additional expense and frustration which most people would not want to inflict on their loved ones during a time of loss.

Marriage and property

When drafting your will, it’s important to consider the nature of your relationship with your ‘significant other’. If you are married in community of property, you only own half of all assets registered in your name and that of your spouse. Your spouse therefore still remains a one half share owner of any fixed property you may want to bequeath to a third party which could potentially present difficulties.

If you are married in terms of the accrual regime, the calculation to determine which spouse has a claim against the other to equalise the growth of the respective estates only occurs at death. Your spouse may therefore have a substantial claim against your estate necessitating the sale of assets you had not intended to be sold.

Alongside your will, you should also prepare the following in relation to any immovable property you may own:

  1. State where your title deeds are kept and record any outstanding bonds and all insurance
  2. File up-to-date rates and taxes receipts
  3. Record details of the leases on any property you have
  4. State who collects your rent
  5. State who compiles your yearly accounts
  6. State where your water, lights and refuse deposit receipts are kept

 If you die without a will

According to the according to Intestate Succession Act, 1987, your estate will be distributed as follows:

  1. Only spouse survives: Entire estate goes to spouse.
  2. Only descendants survive: Estate is divided between descendants.
  3. Spouse & descendants survive: The spouse gets R250 000 or a child’s share and the balance is divided equally between the spouse and descendants.
  4. Both parents survive: Total share is divided equally between both parents.
  5. One parent: Total Estate goes to the parent.
  6. One parent & descendants: Half the Estate goes to the parent; balance is divided equally amongst descendants.
  7. No spouse; No descendants; No parents; but descendants through mother & descendants through father: Estate divided into two parts: half to descendants through mother; half to descendants through father.
  8. No spouse; No descendants; No parents; No descendants through mother or father: Full Proceeds of the Estate has to be paid into the Guardians Fund in the event of no descendants whatsoever.


This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Can I amend my will?

Having a will is a final statement of how you want your assets to be managed after your death. However, sometimes you may want to change it. You may have had a child, for example, and what to add him/her into your will. You may have also acquired more assets and would like to reconsider how they get divided among your possible heirs.

What is a codicil?

When you want to add something to your will or make a minor change, then you can make use of a codicil. A codicil is a schedule or annexure to an existing will, which is made to supplement or to amend an existing will. A codicil must comply with the same requirements for a valid will. A codicil need not be signed by the same witnesses who signed the original will.

What if I want to amend my will?

  1. Amendments to a will can only be made while executing a will or after the date of execution of the will.
  2. Amendments to a will must comply with the same requirements for a valid will and if you cannot write, with the same requirements listed under that heading.
  3. When amending a will, the same witnesses who signed the original will need not sign it.

 Must I amend my will after divorce?

A bequest to your divorced spouse in your will, which was made prior to your divorce, will not necessarily fall away after divorce.

  1. The Wills Act stipulates that, except where you expressly provide otherwise, a bequest to your divorced spouse will be deemed revoked if you die within three months of the divorce.
  2. This provision is to allow a divorced person a period of three months to amend his/her will, after the trauma of a divorce.
  3. Should you however fail to amend your will within three months after your divorce, the deemed revocation rule will fall away, and your divorced spouse will benefit as indicated in the will.


This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Should I plan my estate as a young adult?

It is very important for you to plan your estate, which could include a living will, a last will and a living trust. This can help families prepare for difficult times when you are no longer around to assist or advise them. Our lives get busier and more complicated by the day, so estate planning for young and old becomes increasingly important. Young people should consider preparing certain estate planning documents, and in particular financial powers of attorney and living wills.

At the age of 18 a young man or woman officially becomes an adult in the eyes of the world. This means that you are entitled to make important financial, legal or health decisions about your lives. But what if something happens and you are unable to make these decisions at a critical time? Such situations can range from a small inconvenience to a life-threatening crisis, but if your estate is in order, it can speak on your behalf.

Financial power of attorney

A financial power of attorney allows you to appoint someone you trust, like another family member, to make financial decisions on your behalf. This document can be activated when you are incapacitated or right after it has been signed, and it will remain effective until you can resume charge of your own decisions again.

A financial durable power of attorney will allow the appointed person to handle important legal and financial matters on behalf of the grantor. In the case of a business or financial situation which involves the young adult, such as a passport or car registration renewal, it is convenient for the power of attorney to act on his/her behalf if they cannot tend to the problem. This arrangement may come in handy when there is a legal situation which requires quick action and the young adult is unable to attend. Families with a disabled family member can also benefit from the security of a power of attorney.

Living will

A living will enables you to state specific medical wishes if you are alive, but unable to communicate them. Artificial life support in the case of a coma or terminal illness is an issue often discussed in such a document. Preferences regarding administering of pain medication, artificial nutrition and other treatments can be dictated in this document.

The Terry Shaivo case shows what can happen if this document is not in place. The legal battle between her husband, family and state of Florida lasted for years before she was granted her wish and taken off life support.

Health care power of attorney

With this type of power of attorney, you give someone else the power to make health decisions on your behalf. These decisions regarding serious health and emotional crises will be made based on instructions which you have given to your power of attorney beforehand. Sometimes a living will is combined with a health care power of attorney, because both of these can be revoked, i.e. it can be cancelled at any time by destroying it, communicating your wishes to your doctor, writing a letter regarding the cancellation or by creating a new living will and health care power of attorney, indicating that the new will revokes all the previous ones.

Start the conversation

Every family’s legal needs are different, so perhaps you should take the first step in being prepared for the worst. Remember that every time your family composition changes, like when a child is born, you need to adapt your will to include them. Start the process and be prepared.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

What you need to know about estate planning

The main aim of planning your estate is to ensure that as much of the accumulated wealth is utilised for your own benefit and for the benefit of your dependents on your death.

What is estate planning?

“Estate planning” has been defined as the process of creating and managing a programme that is designed to:

  1. Preserve, increase and protect your assets during your lifetime;
  1. Ensure the most effective and beneficial distribution thereof to succeeding generations.

It is a common misconception that it revolves solely around the making of a Last Will and Testament, or the structuring of affairs so as to reduce estate duty. Each person’s estate is unique and should be structured according to his/her own unique set of circumstances, goals and objectives.

What is liquidity?

The lack of liquidity on the date of death may cause for the deceased’s family members and dependents to suffer hardship, as certain assets might be sold by the executor to generate the cash needed.

Liquidity means that there should be enough cash funds to provide for:

  1. Paying estate duty;
  1. Settling estate liabilities and administration costs;
  1. Providing for other taxation liabilities that may arise at death, such as capital gains tax.

Technically the estate is frozen until such time as the Master of the High Court has issued Letters of Executorship.

Having no will…

If you die without executing a valid Last Will and Testament, your estate will be dealt with as an intestate estate, and the laws relating to intestate succession will apply. The Intestate Succession Act determines that the surviving spouse will inherit the greater of R250 000 or a child’s share. A child’s share is determined by dividing the total value of the estate by the number of the children and the surviving spouse. If the spouses were married in community of property, one half of the estate goes to the surviving spouse as a consequence of the marriage, and the other half devolves according to the rules of intestate succession. If there is no surviving spouse or dependents, the estate is divided between the parents and/or siblings. In the absence of parents or siblings, the estate is divided between the nearest blood relatives.

The executor remuneration

Executor’s remuneration is subject to VAT where the executor is registered as a vendor.

Where the value of the estate exceeds R3.5 million, estate duty will become payable on the balance in excess of R3.5 million, with the exception of the property bequeathed to a surviving spouse, which is exempt from estate duty and/or capital gains tax.


Section 3 of the Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act prevents the subdivision of agricultural land, and such land being registered in undivided shares in more than one person’s name is subject to Ministerial approval.

Minor children

A minor child is a person under the age of 18 years of age. Any funds bequeathed to a minor child will be held by the Guardian’s Fund, which falls under the administration of the Master of the High Court. These funds are not freely accessible, and are usually invested at below market interest rates. It is thus advisable to provide for minors by means of a trust.

Member’s interest

The Close Corporations Act provides that, subject to the association agreement, where an heir is to inherit a member’s interest (in terms of the deceased’s Will), the consent of the remaining members (if any) must be obtained. If no consent is given within 28 days after it was requested by the executor, then the executor is forced to sell the member’s interest.

Estate duty

Section 3(3)(d) of Estate Duty Act determines that where an asset is transferred to a trust during an estate planner’s lifetime, yet the estate planner, as trustee of the trust retains such power as would allow him to dispose of the trust asset(s) unilaterally for his own or his beneficiaries’ benefit during his lifetime, then such asset(s) may be deemed to be property of the estate planner and included in his estate for estate duty purposes.

In community of property

Where the parties are married in community of property, the surviving spouse will have a claim for 50 percent of the value of the combined estate, thus reducing the actual value of the estate by 50 percent. The estate is divided after all the debts have been settled in a deceased estate (not including burial costs and estate duty, as these are the sole obligations of the deceased and not the joint estate). Only half of any assets can be bequeathed.

Life insurance

The proceeds from life insurance policies can be used to:

  1. Generate income to maintain dependents while the estate is dealt with;
  1. Pay estate expenses: funeral, income tax, estate administration, estate duty.

All proceeds of South African “domestic” policies taken out on the estate planner’s life, where there is no beneficiary nominated on the policy, will fall into his estate on his death.

Where a beneficiary is nominated on the policy, the proceeds will be deemed property for estate duty purposes, even though they are paid directly to the beneficiary (subject to partial exemptions based on policy premiums).

Policies which are exempted from inclusion for estate duty purposes are buy and sell, key man policies, and those policies ceded to a spouse or child in terms of an antenuptial contract.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Your Will – an important document

a2_bLife is unpredictable, therefore we advise our clients to lose no time in drawing up their will and planning their estate. Below are important reasons why this should be one of your top priorities.

Q: Why should I have a will?

A: A will enables you to name your heirs. Should you die without a will (intestate) your assets will be divided according to the Intestate Succession Act. That may advantage people whom you did not wish to name as heirs.

Q: Who is allowed to sign your will as witness?

A: Your will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses, who also sign in each other’s presence. Only persons older than 14 years are qualified to sign as witnesses.

Q: What is the cost of Executor’s fees?

A: The maximum remuneration payable to an Executor is determined by law and is currently fixed at 3.5% of the total gross estate value. Executor’s fees should, however, be negotiated with the person who has been appointed as Executor of your will.

Q: How often should I revise my will?

A: It is recommended that wills be revised at least every 2 years. It is also important to review your will after events like marriage, birth, divorce or the purchase of property.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

What are mutual Wills?

The most general mutual will is that of a married couple. This does not mean, however, that the estates are joined and that the Testator and Testatrix have to make a joint decision about the distribution of their estates. Each party may still make independent decisions about the distribution of his/her estate within one will.

As a result, a mutual will is very popular among married couples, but the person who draws up the will, should take into consideration each party’s assets, liabilities and needs regarding inheritance to determine whether he/she should draw up separate wills or a mutual will, i.e. 2 separate wills within one document or one will which determines that merging of the respective or mutual wills should take place.

What mutual wills should contain

In the case of a mutual will there should be a description regarding the execution of the will should the spouses die simultaneously or within a short period, such as 30 days of each other. For argument’s sake, the Testator and Testatrix could be in a car accident. The testator dies and the Testatrix is in a critical condition, rendering her unable to draw up a new will; provision should be made in the will for such scenarios.

Legislation acknowledges the principle of freedom of bequeathment; each person therefore has the right to bequeath his/her assets according to his/her preference. Despite a Testator and Testatrix having a mutual will, one of the parties could decide, for whatever reason, to have another individual will drawn up which is dated later than the mutual will. The surviving spouse will not be able to insist that the mutual will be accepted as the last will and testament.

Amending a mutual will

One party does not need the other party’s permission to amend a mutual will. Each party has the right to draw up a new will at any time, without any obligation to inform the other party thereof. Should the mutual will turn out to be the last will of the deceased, it will become the valid will regarding the deceased, regardless of whether the surviving spouse had already drawn up another will.

Do the estates merge?

Merging of estates takes place when the estates of two people are joined into one upon the death of the first spouse, mainly with the aim of managing an asset in which both parties had an interest. Normally a limited right, such as a usufruct, should be created in terms of any of the assets in the estate to the benefit of the surviving spouse. Even with merging of estates the surviving party has the right to accept or reject the mutual will and the resulting merging of estate assets after the death of the first party. It boils down to the fact that, even where merging of estates is determined in the will, the mutual will does not have much value if the surviving party rejects the stipulations of the will after the death of the deceased party.

The way in which the creation of the merge is worded in a will is of extreme importance, as the wrong choice of words could have a major impact on the payment of policies outside the estate which should fall to the surviving party’s lot. The acceptance or rejection of a will in which a merge was created should also be considered carefully, as there are several implications, e.g. Transfer duty, Donations tax and Capital Gains Tax.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Vruggebruik (usufruct), gebruiksreg (usus) en habitatio: Wat is die verskil?

A2_bVruggebruik, gebruiksreg en habitatio is persoonlike serwitute. Hierdie serwitute word soms as  instrument in boedelbeplanning gebruik om boedelbelasting te verminder, maar testateurs besef nie altyd wat dit behels en die las wat dit op erfgename kan plaas nie.

Wat is ‘n persoonlike serwituut?

‘n Persoonlike serwituut verleen aan ‘n persoon die reg om ‘n ander persoon se eiendom te gebruik en te geniet. Die serwituut is afdwingbaar teen die eienaar van die eiendom wat belas is met die serwituut, maar die serwituut kan nie deur die serwituuthouer oorgedra word nie. Die serwituut kan verleen word vir ‘n vaste termyn, of totdat ‘n toekomstige gebeurtenis plaasvind, of vir die leeftyd van die serwituutbegunstigde, maar nie meer na sy dood nie.

Hoe word ‘n persoonlike serwituut geskep?

Dit word gewoonlik geskep in ‘n testament, maar kan ook geskep word by wyse van ‘n ooreenkoms.


Vruggebruik is die reg wat aan ‘n persoon verleen word om die eiendom van ‘n ander te gebruik en te geniet en die vrugte (opbrengs) daarvan te neem, sonder om die aard van die eiendom te verander. Wanneer vruggebruik byvoorbeeld oor ‘n plaas verleen word, sluit dit gewoonlik ook die geboue en vee, boerderytoerusting en die meubels van die woonhuis in.

Die algemene pligte van die vruggebruiker

Die vruggebruiker is slegs geregtig op die gebruik en genot van die eiendom; hy verkry nie eiendomsreg nie. Die vruggebruiker mag nie die eiendom uitput of vernietig nie, maar hy is verplig om dit te bewaar. Die eiendom moet gebruik word op die wyse waarvoor dit bedoel is. ‘n Nuwe wyse van gebruik van die eiendom is toelaatbaar mits dit sinvol is onder die omstandighede.

Reg op vrugte

Die vruggebruiker mag die vrugte neem, gebruik of vervreem hetsy die vrugte natuurlik, industrieel of saaklik van aard is. Dit beteken dat die vruggebruiker geregtig is op al die produkte wat die grond bied en alle wins en inkomste wat verkry word uit die eiendom. Die kleintjies van diere asook alle produkte afkomstig van die diere, insluitend melk, wol of eiers, word die eiendom van die vruggebruiker. Die vruggebruiker verkry eienaarskap van die vrugte deur dit self te versamel of deur iemand te kry om dit namens hom te doen. Gewasse op die lande word nie as vrugte beskou nie, maar as deel van die grond en moet eers versamel en van die grond geskei word. Vrugte wat nie by die verstryking van die vruggebruik versamel is nie, kan nie oorgedra word aan die vruggebruiker se opvolgers/erfgename nie. Saaklike vrugte (byvoorbeeld huurinkomste of rente) word die eiendom van die vruggebruiker wanneer dit verskuldig word. By die beëindiging van die vruggebruik word saaklike vrugte verdeel tussen die vruggebruiker en die eienaar van die eiendom in verhouding tot die tyd wat die vruggebruik bestaan het​​.

Herstelwerk en uitgawes

Die vruggebruiker is verplig om die eiendom in stand te hou en is verantwoordelik vir alle uitgawes om die eiendom goed te onderhou, normale slytasie uitgesluit. Die vruggebruiker is verder verantwoordelik vir die betaling van munisipale belastings en heffings. Die betaling van versekeringspremies, uitgawes verbonde aan strukturele versterkings wat nodig mag wees om te verhoed dat ‘n gebou  bouvallig word, en ander soortgelyke uitgawes is nie deel van die vruggebruiker se verantwoordelikhede nie.


Die vruggebruiker is nie geregtig op vergoeding vir verbeterings wat hy op die eiendom aanbring nie. Die verbeterings mag wel verwyder word mits hy alle skade veroorsaak deur die verwydering herstel.


‘n Vruggebruiker mag nie die eiendom vervreem of beswaar nie, maar hy mag sy reg op die gebruik en genot van die eiendom en die vrugte daarvan verkoop, verhuur of uitleen, met dien verstande dat sodanige reëling nie die tydperk waarvoor die vruggebruik toegestaan is, mag oorskry nie.


Vruggebruik word gewoonlik vir die leeftyd van die vruggebruiker toegestaan, maar soms mag dit ook vir ‘n vaste tydperk toegestaan word. Dit sal egter steeds beëindig word by die dood van die vruggebruiker.

Regshandelinge deur die eienaar

Die eienaar mag nie enigiets doen om die vruggebruiker se regte te benadeel nie. Die eienaar mag nie die vruggebruiker se reg op gebruik of genot van die eiendom verhoed, belemmer of inkort nie. Die eienaar mag slegs met die skriftelike toestemming van die vruggebruiker ‘n saaklike serwituut oor die eiendom registreer. Die skriftelike toestemming van die vruggebruiker word benodig vir enige ander handelinge met die eiendom deur die eienaar, byvoorbeeld met die verkoop van die eiendom en die registrasie van ‘n verband. Die eienaar en die vruggebruiker mag tesame ‘n verband oor die eiendom verkry of die vruggebruiker kan sy voorkeur laat vaar sodat die verband vry van die vruggebruik geregistreer kan word. Die meeste banke verkies laasgenoemde.


Die serwituut van gebruik lyk na vruggebruik, maar die houer se regte is baie meer beperk as dié van die vruggebruiker. In die geval van roerende eiendom mag hy die eiendom besit en gebruik en in die geval van onroerende eiendom mag hy en sy familie die eiendom bewoon. Die houer mag van die vrugte neem vir sy en sy gesin se daaglikse behoeftes. Die houer mag nie enige van die vrugte verkoop nie en ook nie ‘n huurkontrak oor die eiendom toestaan nie. Daar is ‘n paar uitsonderings, byvoorbeeld waar ’n huis te groot is vir die houer se gebruik, mag hy  ‘n gedeelte daarvan verhuur. Die houer se gebruik van die eiendom mag egter nie tot nadeel van die eiendom strek nie.


Die serwituut van habitatio verleen aan die houer die reg om saam met sy familie in die huis van ‘n ander te woon, sonder dat dit nadelig vir die eiendom is. Die houer mag die eiendom verhuur of onderverhuur.

Hierdie is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet gevolglik nie as regs- of ander professionele advies benut word nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of enige skade of verlies wat volg uit die gebruik van enige inligting hierin vervat nie. Kontak altyd u regsadviseur vir spesifieke en toegepaste advies. (E&OE)

Is dit voordelig om ‘n Trust te stig?

A5_bDie Trust kan beskryf word as ‘n regsverhouding wat ontstaan waarby die stigter bates onder die beheer van Trustees plaas. Dit gebeur óf in die stigter se leeftyd (inter vivos trust), óf by die stigter se dood (testamentêre trust). Hierdie artikel gaan fokus op die voordele en nadele van die inter vivos trust.

Die voordele van ‘n Trust is eerstens om boedelbelasting te verminder. ‘n Inter vivos trust kan gebruik word om boedelbelasting te verminder. Geen boedelbelasting is betaalbaar op bates wat deur die Trust gehou word nie, aangesien ‘n Trust nie sterf nie. Boedelbelasting is huidiglik belasbaar teen 20% van die bruto waarde van die boedel. Die boedelbelasting besparing kan aansienlik wees vir ‘n persoon met ‘n groot netto waarde, wat miljoene rande werd kan wees. Tweedens kan ‘n Trust gebruik word om beskerming te geniet teen die begunstigdes se krediteure, aangesien die bates nie die eiendom van die begunstigdes is nie en krediteure dus nie ‘n eis teen die bates van die Trust kan instel nie. Hierdie voordeel is veral belangrik vir mense wat blootgestel is aan persoonlike aanspreeklikheid. Maatskappye en persone kan bates na ‘n Trust oordra. Derdens, as gevolg van die feit dat ‘n Trust nooit sterf nie, sal die begunstigdes steeds die voordeel van die trustbate geniet, selfs al sterf een van die Trustees.

Die nadele van ‘n Trust is eerstens die kostes om ‘n Trust te stig en op te rig, wat baie hoog kan wees, selfs soveel as R20 000. As onroerende bates na ‘n Trust oorgedra word, sal hereregte ook betaalbaar wees. Die stigters van die Trust kan ook verantwoordelik wees vir Skenkingsbelasting, wat huidiglik belasbaar is teen 20% van die waarde van die bates oorgedra aan die Trust. Hereregte is belasbaar volgens ‘n glyskaal. Tweedens kan Trustees persoonlik aanspreeklik gehou word vir finansiële verliese wat deur die Trust gely word as daar bevind word dat hulle nie met die nodige sorg, toewyding en vaardigheid opgetree het in terme van Artikel 9 van die Wet op Beheer van Trustgoedere nie. Dit is belangrik om daarop te let dat “vaardigheid” meer vereis as net goeie trou. Trustees se handelinge mag dalk as nalatig beskou word indien hulle hoë-risiko beleggings aangaan, maar ook as hulle beleggings aangaan wat te konserwatief is en wat veroorsaak dat die kapitaal nie teen ‘n goeie rentekoers groei nie. Trustees moet ook bewus wees daarvan dat hulle aanspreeklik gehou kan word, selfs al is daar net een Trustee met tekenmagte, aangesien ‘n swak keuse deur hierdie persoon alle Trustees aanspreeklik vir nalatigheid sal maak.

Die stigter van die Trust moet besef dat die bates in die Trust nie langer aan hom/haar  behoort nie, maar aan die Trust. Indien hierdie verlies van beheer (van stigter na Trust) nie plaasvind nie, kan die Trust  as ‘n alter ego van die stigter gesien word, wat beteken dat hierdie bates wel in krediteure se eise ingesluit kan word en boedelbelasting gevolglik van toepassing kan wees.

Die verdienste uit bates in die Trust word teen 40% belas, en baie min vrystellings is van toepassing op Trusts. Die huidige koers vir Kapitaalwinsbelasting vir ‘n inter vivos trust is 66.6% terwyl die koers vir individue 33.3% is. Laastens is dit duidelik dat ‘n Trust nie ‘n geskikte keuse vir almal is nie.

Dit is belangrik om die voordele en nadele te oorweeg voordat ‘n besluit gemaak word om ‘n Trust te stig. Die beste besluit sou wees om met ‘n gesertifiseerde finansiële beplanner of prokureur te praat, wat kan help om die regte besluit met betrekking tot die spesifieke situasie te maak.

Hierdie is ‘n algemene inligtingstuk en moet gevolglik nie as regs- of ander professionele advies benut word nie. Geen aanspreeklikheid kan aanvaar word vir enige foute of weglatings of enige skade of verlies wat volg uit die gebruik van enige inligting hierin vervat nie. Kontak altyd u regsadviseur vir spesifieke en toegepaste advies. (E&OE)

Impact of divorce on validity of will

A1_b_newMost people think that they do not have a valid will, when in fact they do have a valid will. That document that you signed with your ex-spouse 10 years ago is still valid (if all formalities were met) unless you signed a new last will and testament in the meantime.

Yes, that means that your ex-spouse (if stipulated as such in your last will) will inherit your assets. The mere fact that you are divorced does not invalidate your last will. You need to make a new will and stipulate that all previous wills are revoked.

There is however one exception, should you pass away within three months after your divorce, the South African Law assumes that it was your intention to change your will to omit your ex-spouse. Your wishes in your will, excluding the requested made to your ex-spouse, will be adhered to.

Should you however pass away three months and 1 day after your divorce, with a will bequeathing everything to your ex-spouse; it will be assumed that it was your wish to, despite the divorce, that your ex-spouse should inherit your estate.

What happens when you remarried and did not change your will?  Your will is still valid (if all formalities were adhered to). Your current spouse will be entitled to half of the estate (if you were married in community of property) and will need to claim maintenance from your estate.  If his / her claim is not accepted if could lead to a lengthy and costly court case.

It is therefore advisable to change your will as soon as possible whenever your wishes or current situation changes. Do not be caught as the consequences could be disastrous.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice

Your Will and foreign assets

A4_BEach country has its own legislation regarding inheritance and signing of wills. It would therefore be possible that your South African will does not comply with all the requirements of the country where your foreign assets are located.

This may result in the non-inheritance of your foreign assets in terms of your last will and testament.

It is therefore imperative that you should have two wills if you have foreign assets; one for your South African assets and one regarding your foreign assets according to the regulations of the country where these assets are located. It is always important to plan your estate carefully; should you have foreign assets, however, you must take extra care to ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant country’s legislation.

The aim with planning an estate is ultimately to reach your goals in the distribution of your assets and liabilities. These goals should make provision for the management of your estate during your lifetime, but also after your passing.

A further consequence of the increasing  exposure to international investments is that South Africans are also exposed to foreign fiduciary services, including wills for their foreign assets.

Whether it is truly necessary to draw up a separate foreign will or just one global will depends on the following:

  • where your foreign assets are located;
  • the nature of the assets and the type of products in which these assets have been invested; and
  • who takes care of the administration of your foreign assets/investments.

Should your South African will be drawn up in Afrikaans, it may be necessary to have it translated and sealed before sending it to the foreign executor/agent. This could be time-consuming and very costly.

A separate foreign will also has other advantages: your foreign will is administered in line and simultaneously with your South African assets; an executor/agent who is familiar with the required procedures in the relevant country where your assets are located will save you time and money; and someone who draws up wills professionally within the jurisdiction of the relevant country can provide you with advice regarding the possible dangers in relation to tax accountability and hereditary succession when it comes to assets outside the borders of South Africa.

Although we would recommend drawing up a second will with reference to foreign assets, we suggest that, should there be any mention of foreign assets, your South African will must be drawn up in English and it should not pertinently refer to the fact that the document is only applicable to your South African assets.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.