Making A Will

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A will is a written, legally enforceable expression or declaration of how a person's property should be distributed upon his or her death. The person is called 'the testator'. Those who inherit or benedit under the will are called 'beneficiaries'. The 'executor' is the person nominated by the testator to administer and distribute the will. If there are beneficiareies who are minors(persons under 21 years of age) named in your will, you will need at least two executors or trustees. The executors can also act as trustees who could be able to hold any assets or invest/use any money for the benefit of the minors.

If you pass away without making a will, your assets will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy as laid down by the Intestate Succession Act. See your lawyer to find out how these rules apply to you. It is possible that when you pass away without a will your assets may be given to people you do not intend to give anything to. In addition, the people who would look after your estate may not be of your choice. These people are called 'administrators' instead of executors although they perform a similar task. They have to apply to t he court for 'Letter of Administration' and the procedure is generally more complicated that in the case where you have a will. For instance, they are required to provide two guarantors unless they obtain an Order of Court dispensing with this. It is, therefore, important to make a will if there are specific family members, friends or organisations that you want your assets to go to after your death.

Generally if you are over 21 and of sound mind, you can make a will and change it anytime during your life. For soldiers in active service and mariners or seamen at sea, they can make a will even though they are under 21 years of age. However, your beneficiaries may have to suffer needless expenses and distress if it turns out that your home-made will is ineffective or invalid. It is therefore better to consult a lawyer who would be able to advise you and draft a will for you.

In your will, you should name the persons or organisations that you wish to give your property and assets to. The signing of the will must be witnessed by two persons who are not beneficiaries in the will and who are also not the husband or wife of any of the beneficiaries. You should also inform your family and especially your executors that you have made a will and where it is kept. Your lawyer can look after the will for you. It is important in this case to provide your executors with the lawyer's name and address.