National Wills Week takes place from 16-20 September. It is an awareness programme driven by the Department of Justice, which will see it visiting rural areas around the country with volunteers from the South African Law Society to assist people in obtaining such a legal binding document. But there is a lot more devil in the detail, and all this piece of paper could turn out to be is a false sense of security.
A South African testator has almost unlimited freedom of testation and may stipulate in his or her will whatever he or she wishes. As a result, the contents of wills may vary greatly.
The manner in which assets are distributed after death depends on whether a will or other valid documents containing testamentary provisions, such as an antenuptial contract, exists.
But freedom of testation is not absolute and is subject to limitations imposed by various pieces of legislation.
When a person dies without a will or their will, or part of it, is declared invalid for whatever reason, that person's estate will be distributed according to the principles of common law. In the event of intestacy, the assets are distributed in order of preference among the...