Follow these simple steps to make sure that your will is valid during #lockdown.

Lockdown has spurred many South Africans to complete their wills online or over the telephone. But social distancing regulations and a phased re-opening of businesses can make it difficult to ensure that these new or updated wills comply with the law.

Legislation requires a Last Will and Testament to have an original signature from the testator or testatrix. In addition, the signatures of two independent witnesses are required. “Some people haven’t been able to print out their wills to sign them,” says Alex Simeonides, CEO of wills and estate administration company Capital Legacy. “Or, they haven’t been able to get independent witnesses to sign.”

The solution

One solution is to provide an additional declaration stating that your will has been signed either digitally or in original format, but has been done under special circumstances that do not allow it to be witnessed. Should you pass away, this then allows the executor of your estate to petition the High Court – which does incur legal costs – to accept the latest version as your Last Will and Testament.

“Bearing the costs on behalf of our clients for this means covering a cost of dying that no-one anticipated. The testator/ix’s wishes can still be honoured even though the will may not be valid according to legislation,” says Simeonides. “If you sign such a declaration during lockdown, make sure you attach it to your latest will and place it in safe custody.”

Don’t forget to tell your family where you have placed your will. Even better, print a second signed original version. Then, courier it to a third-party or trusted advisor for safekeeping. “By signing the additional declaration, you have peace of mind that should you pass away unexpectedly over the next few months, your loved ones can approach the court to ensure that your will is accepted and your wishes honoured.

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