Last Will and Testaments (Wills)

A will is a legal document with an expressed instruction stipulating how you wish your estate to be distributed to your beneficiaries when you pass away. This document needs to comply with certain legal criteria to be valid. The wording is critical and getting it wrong can lead to hardship and even financial distress for the people left behind.

Having a well-structured valid will in place ensures that you are taking care of your responsibilities and that your assets are distributed to the correct beneficiaries. This will provide security and protection to those who are dependent on you. People with assets in more than one country can choose to have one will which deals with their worldwide estate or alternatively they can draw up separate wills for each country in which their assets are held.


If a person dies without a will (intestate) or if their will is found to be invalid for any reason their estate assets will be dealt with in terms of the laws of intestacy (Intestate Succession Act (SA) –

(Intestate Succession Rules (UK) -someone-dies-without-will)

These rules are automatically applied when there is no will or if the deceased’s will is invalid.The Act or regulations will determine how your estate will be distributed amongst your family and bloodline in accordance with the rules of succession, which may differ from whom you would like to benefit from your estate.

If you do not have a valid will in place when you pass away your family may have to face the following issues along with dealing with the loss:
  • Delays in the appointment of an Executor therefore a longer period in which no person would have the authority to take control and protect your assets.
  • Appointment of an Executor who is unknown to the family and circumstances.
  • Additional expenses and costs. (guarantee for security etc.)
  • Delays in living expenses being available to the deceased’s dependents.
  • Distribution of assets to family members who you do not wish to benefit from your estate.
  • Lack of protection (Trusts etc.) for inheritances which dependents (disabled and minors) will receive.
  • Assets (house, motor vehicles) may have to be sold to implement equitable distributions.
  • Lack of provision for unmarried partners.

Single Will

This is a legal document executed by one person which contains instructions to deal with the distribution of an individual person’s assets or one-half share of a community estate where the testator/testatrix is married in community of property (in terms of South African marital regimes).

A Joint Will

This is a legal document executed by two (or more) people, which merges their individual wills into a single, combined (Joint) last will and testament which they each sign. A joint will allows the testators to nominate who will receive their assets after they pass away. Joint wills are usually drawn up and signed by married couples. Unlike single wills the testators of a joint will cannot change or revoke the joint will without the consent of the co-testator. This is often not very practical due to its complications and potential change in circumstances.

A Mirror Will

Mirror wills are two separate wills which are almost entirely identical and are frequently used by couples who have common wishes for the distribution of their estate assets. The normal scenario is one partner bequeathing majority of their estate to the surviving partner and a small portion to their child/children. On the death of the surviving partner (second dying) the entire balance of the estate goes to their child/children. Unlike joint wills, you can change your mirror will without consent from your partner.

Living Will

A “living will” is often referred to as “Advance Decision”, “Advance Medical Decision” or “Advance Directive”. A living will is a document which outlines any medical treatments you do not wish to have in future, and this document is only used if you are unable to make or communicate those choices at the time of treatment. These wills/directives are commonly used to refuse life-sustaining treatments such as CPR or being put on a ventilator. Living wills can also outline which treatments, such as surgery, are not to be used to treat long-term diseases such as cancer.

“Advance Medical Decisions” are documents which are legally binding in England and Wales, but not all countries consider these documents as legally binding but could assist others to take your wishes into consideration when there is uncertainty regarding certain procedures.

“Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Order” (DNAR Order) is a document or directive which deals solely with cardiac or respiratory arrest. This DNAR Order can be put in place which, in the event of cardiac or respiratory arrest, no attempts at cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) will be made. All other appropriate treatment and care would be provided. This DNAR Order is frequently drawn up and held by elderly frail people.

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Other ways that we can help you:

Administration of Deceased Estates (Probates)

Power of Attorneys


Estate and Financial Planning