In terms of the Wills Act, when someone executes his or her will, it must be done in accordance with certain rules/formalities.

A will that is not executed in accordance with these formalities is invalid, i.e. it is of no force and effect and the contents of the will can be ignored.

The issue of the invalidity of a will can be solved by means of a court order in terms of section 2(3) of the Wills Act, however the costs of going to court to prove that a will is valid can be exorbitant, and this process takes time.

So, what are these formalities? In terms of section 2(1) of the Wills Act:

  • The will must be in writing and signed at the end thereof by the testator (person making the will);
  • If the will consists of more than one page, all the pages must be signed by the testator;
  • The signature of the testator must be made in the presence of two or more competent witnesses;
  • The witnesses must attest and sign the will in the presence of the testator and each other;
  • Where the testator signs the will with a mark, a commissioner of oaths must be present and specific certification formalities apply.

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Author – Jessica Gooding

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