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6. Making a Will

“I want to make a will, leaving small sums of money to my friend and to Child Welfare, and the rest of my estate to my wife. Should I consult an attorney? What should I say in my will?”

What Does the Law Say?

Remember the will must be in writing and it must be signed on each page by you the testator (the person making the will), and by two witnesses who are not named in the will, all present at the same time.

(See: Dying with a will)

What Can You Do?

Making a will is very important. Unclear language in a will can cause problems. And if the legal requirements are not met, the Master of the High Court can ignore your will.

So it is best to consult an attorney or a bank if you want to make a will, or you can buy a will form from a stationery shop. A good attorney can draft a will that includes ways of saving tax when dividing up your estate. A bank may draw up your will without charging, if you are a client of the bank.

Your will can be simple, like the example below, or it can have detailed instructions. For example, it can say what must happen to everything you own and what must happen at the funeral. It can name someone to be guardian of your young children.

If you want to leave something special to someone, for example a sum of money to a charity, or a book or watch to a friend, you can write this in your will. This is called a legacy. The rest of your estate, after legacies and debts are all paid out, goes to your heir or heirs.

You can write your will in handwriting, as long as it is clear and neat. You can change it at any time. You and your witnesses must sign any changes you make. If there are big changes, it is best to make a new will.

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