FORMALITIES OF A VALID WILL IN SOUTH AFRICA

There are specific formalities which a Will must comply with in order for it to be rendered as valid in terms of the Wills Act 7 of 1953.

The requirements for a valid Will are as follows:

  • A person must be over the age of 16 (sixteen) years.
  • The Will must be in writing. This means that a Will can by typed or handwritten. If the Will is handwritten, it must be remembered that the person who writes the Will is not allowed to be mentioned as a beneficiary in that specific Will. (I would recommend that you approach a qualified individual such as an Attorney or Financial Advisor; or engage the services of corporate, such as s banking institution or relevant insurance house that offers this service.)
  • Each page of the Will, including the last page, must be signed by the testator. The Will must also be signed by two competent witnesses. A person will qualify to be a competent witness if s/he is 14 (fourteen) years of age or older.
  • The signature of the testator/testatrix must be made in the presence of two or more competent witnesses.
  • The witnesses must attest and sign the Will in the presence of the testator/testatrix and of each other.

What are the requirements for a valid will if one cannot sign his/her name?

If you are unable to sign your Will, you may then ask someone to sign the Will on your behalf or you can sign the Will by the making of a mark (a thumbprint or the making of a cross). When the Will is signed by someone on your behalf or by the making of a mark the requirements for a valid Will are as follow:

  1. Since 1 January 1954 all Wills must be in writing. It can be written by hand, typed or printed.
  2. The testator/testatrix must sign the Will at the end thereof by the making of a mark, or the Will must be signed by some other person in the presence and by the direction of the testator/testatrix.
  3. The mark or the signature of the other person signing on behalf of the testator/testatrix must be made in the presence of two or more competent witnesses and a commissioner of oaths.
  4. The witnesses must attest and sign the Will in the presence of the testator/testatrix and of each other and if the Will is signed by the other person, also in the presence of such other person and a commissioner of oaths.
  5. If the Will consists of more than one page, each page other than the page on which it ends must be signed by the testator/testatrix or by such other person anywhere on the page. (Although the testator / testatrix must sign all the pages of the Will it is only the page on which the Will ends, that needs to be signed at the end of the Will).
  6. A commissioner of oaths must certify that he/she has satisfied himself/herself as to the identity of the testator and that the Will so signed is the Will of the testator.
  7. The commissioner of oaths must sign his/her certificate and he/she must also sign each other page of the Will, anywhere on the page.

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Glossary of terms:

  • Will: A document in which a person makes sure that his/her belongings are distributed in accordance with his/her wishes after his/her death.
  • Testator/Testatrix: A person who makes a Will.

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Disclaimer:

The above is not meant to be a comprehensive guide on Wills. A Will is a specialised document, which should preferably be drawn up by an expert like an Attorney or Trust company. The information is merely to inform the user of this site about some basic aspects of Wills.

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