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