The secession period spurred many South Africans to have their wills drawn up online or by telephone. However, social distancing and a gradual reopening of businesses over the coming months may make it difficult to ensure that these new or updated wills comply with legislation.
Legislation requires that a will contains an original signature of the testator or testator, as well as that of two independent witnesses. “For some people it was not possible to print and sign their wills,” says Alex Simeonides, CEO of the will and estate management company, Capital Legacy. “In other cases, it was not possible for them to obtain two independent witnesses to sign as required by law.”
He says one solution is to provide a further statement, stating that you signed your will either digitally or in the original format, but that it was under special circumstances that did not allow you to obtain witnesses. Should you die, it allows the executor of your estate to submit it to the High Court to allow the latest version of your will to be accepted, but it will incur legal costs.
“Because we bear the costs for our clients’ behalf when we apply to the court, this means that we cover a cost of death that no one provided and the testator or testator’s wishes can still be fulfilled, even if the will is not valid be in terms of legislation, ”explains Simeonides. If you sign such a declaration during the seclusion period, make sure that you attach it to your latest will and place it in safe custody.
“Do not fail to inform your family about where your will is stored or better yet, print a second, signed version and use a courier service to send it to a third party or your trusted financial advisor for safekeeping. Simeonides says: “With the additional statement, you have the peace of mind that, should you unexpectedly die during the next few months, your loved ones can approach the court to ensure that your will is accepted and your wishes are met.”
If you do not have a will in place, or have not made changes to your will for some time, you can get help from Capital Legacy, one of South Africa’s largest wills and estate planning providers! Send us your details so we can make sure you do not delay this important task any further!