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Get your free will in September

As has become traditional over the past few years, members of the public will be able to have a basic will drafted by an attorney free of charge in National Wills Week from 17 to 21 September.

Attorneys throughout the country are participating in the National Wills Week project.

“If you are a parent, a breadwinner, a homeowner and generally want to ensure your affairs are in order, it is important that you have a valid will drafted by a professional,” say Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) co-chairpersons Mvuzo Notyesi and Ettienne Barnard in a joint statement. “A valid will allows you to state your last wishes, who should inherit your assets and property, to appoint an executor of your choice for your estate and also a guardian for your minor children.”

If you were married, divorced or widowed recently, or you have started cohabiting with your partner, or have bought new property, you must have a will. Similarly, unmarried persons – particularly those who may have a number of people and extended family members who depend on them financially – should ensure they have a will in place, as several people could make a claim on their estates.

“By ensuring that you have a valid will, you as the testator, can protect the interests of your loved ones and ensure that there is no delay in settling your estate after your death,” Notyesi and Barnard say.

“It also ensures your executor will act according to your wishes, as set out in your will.”

Attorneys participating in National Wills Week will display posters with their contact details, so members of the public can make appointments with attorneys in their area.

What you should take to the attorney for your will to be drafted:

VYour ID document

VA list of what you own (including specific personal items that you wish to bequeath to specific people)

Before you go to the attorney, think about:

VWho must get what

VWho should be the legal guardians of your minor children (those under 18)

VWho the executor of your will should be. This could be your attorney or a close family member or friend.

Why should an attorney draft your will?

A practising attorney has the necessary knowledge and expertise to ensure your will is valid by complying with all the legal requirements in the Wills Act, and that it complies with your wishes.

They can also advise you on any problem that may arise from your will and assist your executor in resolving these.

What could happen to your estate if you die without a valid will (ie intestate)?

If you die without leaving a valid will, your assets will be distributed according to the provisions of the Intestate Succession Act.

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