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Making a Will

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Making a Will

by Cape Gateway
13 Feb 2007
Cape Gateway
Cape Gateway

When you die, your estate is divided out between your family or the people that you want to have inherit from you. Who your property is passed on to depends on whether you have a valid will or not.

The estate consists of your personal property and possessions, as well as any money or other assets owed by you.

Who your property is passed on to depends on whether you have a valid will or not. If you have a valid will then the property is divided according to your wishes. If you die without a will (called intestate) then your property will be divided up amongst your immediate family according to the laws of intestate succession.

Creating a Valid Will
If you are older than 16, you can make a will stating who you want your property to go to when you die. For your will to be valid it needs to be made in the proper way and you need to be mentally competent when you create the will. This means that you must be able to understand the consequences of creating a will, must be in a reasonable state of mind and remember what you own.

For a will to be valid you must make sure that:

* The will is in writing.
* Two people older than 14 witness the making of the will (these witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of the will).
* You have initialled every page of the will and signed the last page, in the presence of the witnesses.
* The witnesses have initialled and signed the will.

In your will you can:

* appoint an executor
* divide up your property.

An executor is the person that will make sure that your property is divided up according to your wishes, as set out in your will. The executor also settles your outstanding debts. If you don't choose an executor, the court will appoint someone, usually a family member to be your executor.

You can get a lawyer to help you to draw up a will or you can get an easy-to-complete will form from a stationary shop.

Dying without a Will
If you don't have a valid will when you die, your property is divided up according to the rules set out in the law. These rules state that:

* A married person's property is shared equally by their spouse and their children.
* The property is divided between other family members if there is no spouse or children
* If there are no blood relatives then the property is given to the government.

Different rules apply under customary law but this results in a situation that is totally unfair to the wife.

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