Avoid Dying Intestate – Will Template – South Africa

Avoid Dying Intestate – Will Template – South Africa


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What are the family consequences of dying intestate? In effect, the SA government applies a one-size-fits-all Will to your intestate estate…
The family consequences of dying intestate are seldom ideal. For that reason (and not to be alarmist) at Netto Invest we believe strongly that you should have a Will no matter how small your estate. If you don’t, here is what happens when you die unexpectedly and unprepared.

If you die Intestate, the SA government uses a default will for you

If you were to die today without leaving a Will, under South African law your Estate is distributed according to the laws of intestate succession, as set out in the Intestate Succession Act of 1987.

This means that if you do not draw up a Will, on your death your assets may be distributed in a way that is different from what you would have chosen had you taken the opportunity to do so. In terms of the Act, your closest relatives will inherit from you in strict, pre-determined order and proportions.

In effect, if you don’t have your own Will the State has made a one-size-fits-all option to be applied for all its citizens.


So how would the SA Government allocate your Intestate Estate?

In general terms, this is how your Estate would be divided as a result of dying intestate:

Who is the Deceased survived by? Who gets what from the Deceased Estate?
Only surviving spouse The surviving spouse inherits the entire estate
Only descendants and no spouse The descendants inherit the estate by representation per stirpes
Descendants and spouse The spouse receives either a child’s share or R250 000 whichever is the greater and descendants receive the residue by representation per stirpes
No spouse and no descendants:
Both parents Total Estate is divided equally between both parents
One parent alive Living parent receives half the estate and the remaining half is divided among the descendants of the predeceased parent
No parent & only brother or sister Half the estate will go to the descendants of the father of the deceased and the other half will go to the descendants of the mother of the deceased. Therefore full brothers and sisters will inherit through both parents and half brothers and sisters will inherit through one parent only.
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
No spouse; descendant; parent; brother or sister and no descendants of predeceased brothers and sisters alive The estate devolves in equal shares upon such other blood relation of the deceased who are related to him in nearest degree (for example; grandparents).

In addition, an Intestate Estate still needs an Executor

As this is something you would have done in your will – appoint your chosen executor – when you die without a will it is again left to the Government to appoint an Executor to wind up your Estate. This could cause additional hardship for your family as he/she would be an outsider that does not know them or your personal circumstances.

Is it complicated or expensive to get a Will?

Getting professional advice and having your will draw up by an attorney is inexpensive and highly recommended. If your circumstances are simple and straightforward, you can even use our Will template to draw up a legal will yourself. If however your situation is not absolutely straightforward, we strongly encourage that you take professional legal advice.

When should you get professional assistance to draw up your Will?

Unless your circumstances are absolutely simple and straightforward, we suggest you seek legal assistance with your Will, and reputable financial advice for most efficient and tax effective estate planning. Here are some of the circumstances that make the requirements of your Will more complicated:
• You have a business
• You are married
• You are divorced
• You have a life partner but are not legally married
• You have minor children (under 18 years old)
• You have handicapped dependants
• You have overseas assets
Any of these circumstances make it wise to seek professional advice rather than using the template provided.

Can Netto Invest help me with my Will?

At Netto Invest we work closely with a number of attorneys who can meet you in our office to assist you in drawing up your Will and taking your specific estate planning and financial circumstances into account.

Avoid Dying Intestate – How to Write Your Own Will

As mentioned above, you should only write your own will in the simplest of circumstances. If your circumstances are complex (please see a list of possible complications above – it is not exhaustive) you are advised to contact an attorney to draw up a will for you.

If you decide to go ahead and use the free Will template, please read the information below to make certain that you create a valid will. If your will is found to be invalid, your effort will have been wasted because your Estate will still be allocated to your heirs according to the rules of Intestate Succession as set out above.

A checklist for a valid Will

In order to be valid upon your death, your Will must:
• Be in writing, either typed or hand written
• Be signed in the presence of at least two competent witnesses, who are present at the same time and also in the presence of the testator.
• Be signed on every page by the testator and witnesses.
• Be dated clearly so that if there are multiple Wills, it can be established easily which Will is the final one.

Please note: Family members or any people who benefit from your will may not complete the blanks in this document, and may not sign as witnesses.

When do I nominate my spouse as an executor & when should I nominate an independent executor to administer my estate?

It is generally advisable to nominate your spouse as an executor. This gives them the freedom to shop around and choose the most suitable financial or legal assistance in administering the estate. It also gives them negotiating power with regards the costs of executing the Estate. However, if you anticipate that there is likely to be conflict amongst your beneficiaries it is advisable to appoint an independent executor.

WILLS GLOSSARY – Avoid Dying Intestate

Accrual: a method for calculating the division of assets on death or divorce
Asset something owned such as property, a vehicle or money in the bank
Beneficiary a person who benefits in terms of a Will or from a Trust
Bequeath/Bequest to give something by Will to another
Codicil an alteration to an existing Will which must be signed in the same manner as a Will is signed
Collation the legal obligation of an heir to bring into an estate any benefits received
from a Testator/Testatrix during their lifetime
Community of Property a marital property system in terms of which spouses share equally their assets and liabilities
Descendants a person’s children, grandchildren and all others descending from that person
Estate a person’s assets and liabilities
Executor / Executrix a male/female person appointed to administer and wind-up an estate on death of another
Guardian a person who looks after the interests of people, such as children, who cannot look after their own affairs
Immovable property land and the fixed structures built on it
Issue a person’s children, grandchildren and all other lineal descendants;
Master of the High Court the Court’s representative who oversees the administration of deceased estates, trusts, insolvent estates and the care of Minors
Minor a person under the age of 18 who has not achieved majority through marriage or a court order
Per Stirpes a stipulation that, should a beneficiary predecease the testator, the beneficiary’s share of the inheritance will go to his or her heirs
Power of assumption the power granted to an Executor or Trustee to nominate other persons to be appointed as co-Executor or co-Trustee to assist them
Representation where a nominated heir dies per stirpes before the Testator/Testatrix and the deceased heir’s issue inherit the deceased heir’s inheritance in equal shares
Residue all that is left of an estate after all debts, taxes, legacies and bequests have been paid
Testator / Testatrix a male / female person who makes a Will
Trust an agreement in terms of which property is held for one or more beneficiaries by a Trustee or Trustees
Trustee a person who holds property and looks after it on behalf of someone else

DISCLAIMER: This Wills Glossary is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please do contact us directly with any questions you may have in this regard.