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An up-to-date and easily accessible mortgage is a great way to be financially responsible. Wills in South Africa are straightforward and generally respect the wishes of the deceased. Whether you are a foreigner or a resident, it is a wise decision to put your last wishes on paper.
Estate Planning South Africa
When it comes to inheritance and wills, the South African system includes; Whether recognizing the rights of aliens or residents or persons in customary marriages, there is a relevant law. Therefore, writing a will in South Africa can be a very simple process, provided you do your homework and seek professional guidance when necessary.
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This article will guide you through wills and estates in South Africa, what is required to write a will and how to complete a will.
Most people in South Africa make a will and it’s very easy to do – you can write one yourself and have it done in a day with two witnesses!
However, if you’re not in a certain crowd, it’s probably best to hire a probate attorney to help you understand the process and choose the best way to divide your estate. Remember that your estate includes everything of value you own – for example, property, trusts, bank accounts, pensions and more.
Inheritance law in South Africa applies to anyone who owns property in the country and generally respects the wishes of the deceased. The only exception is if a spouse is left out of the will, they can apply for a portion of the estate to support them, through the Surviving Spouse Protection Act.
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South Africa does not operate forced succession. However, there are several legal requirements if the decedent dies without leaving a will.
If the deceased has received or received a pension they will normally have registered the beneficiaries of their pension fund; The pension is usually included in the gross value of the estate.
As a loved one, it is in your best interest to hire a professional to help you understand your options. This is because questions like whether you take your pension in a lump sum or an annuity affect your allowances and tax rates, so make an educated decision.
To avoid complications in the distribution of the estate, if you own property in South Africa, it is a good idea to draw up a South African Will. It is also permissible (and perhaps wise) to make more than one Will – one relating to property in South Africa and one relating to property abroad.
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However, if you do, be sure to consult a lawyer with international expertise so that one will does not override the other.
If you wish, you are within your rights to decline. However, if you want to make a will, things can get complicated because South Africa does not operate under a ‘rights of inheritance’ system, whereby a child or parent or sibling
You can try to revoke a will on grounds of fraud or that the person was not in their right mind or in some other special cases; If you want to go this route, get some legal help to advise you on the process.
When a person dies without a will in South Africa, the estate is distributed according to the Intestate Succession Act. Provincial succession in South Africa allows for the division of the estate between the surviving spouse and the children, with the surviving spouse receiving a minimum of R250,000 or the child’s share, whichever is greater.
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If the spouses are married in community of property (ie they are joint owners), half of the property goes to the surviving spouse and the other half is divided according to South African intestate settlement laws.
If you did not leave a will in South Africa and have no next of kin to distribute your estate, the estate is distributed among next of kin according to the Succession Act.
If the deceased left no blood relatives or a will, the estate becomes the property of the state.
If the deceased makes large gifts or donations before their death or during their lifetime, they will be subject to the relevant tax rates based on the value of the gift.
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The deceased’s estate is unlikely to be taxed on gifts they made before their death, but if this is an area of concern, seek professional advice relevant to your situation.
If you have assets, it is wise to make a will to ensure that your wishes are respected. If you are a foreigner, with relationships and property in another country, you may have two wills to apply to your property in South Africa and your home country – just make sure the content of each does not conflict or overlap.
Fortunately, you can change or revoke your will at any time, as long as the change meets the requirements of a valid will. As always, if you have a complicated situation, seek proper legal advice to avoid potential pitfalls.
Creating your last will and testament in South Africa involves certain formalities, some of which are similar to many other countries. For example, you may need to appoint an executor to manage your estate in the event of your death. The executor will perform duties such as dealing with creditors and creditors and paying expenses such as estate duty and funeral bills from the estate’s account.
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You can prepare a South African will yourself if you have witnesses, or you can hire the help of a professional such as a lawyer, bank or professional will writer. You can also make a joint will with your spouse.
The South African Wills Act governs the formalities of making a will in South Africa. They include the following:
If you have a complicated estate, contact an attorney to prepare your will. If you prefer to make a will yourself, consult the South African Will Template.
In any case, once you’ve written your will, make sure to make copies and keep the originals; Also, be sure to tell your loved ones where to get it.
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If you want to change your will, you can change it through probate, which basically works like a will update and must follow the requirements of a valid will with two witnesses. Fortunately, your two witnesses to the codicil do not have to be the two original signers of the will.
You can also revoke your previous will by making a new will stating that you have revoked it, or by destroying your old will entirely.
If you want to change or revoke your will, we strongly advise you to seek legal help to avoid mistakes.
After death, family members or loved ones have two weeks (14 days) to notify the High Court Registrar of the death to begin the process of settling the estate, including formally identifying the executor.
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In a will, the deceased’s testator also appoints an executor of his estate; This person will collect the deceased’s assets, pay off the debts and distribute the assets to the beneficiaries.
Due to the technical nature of the work, many people choose to appoint their lawyer as executor. You can check a lawyer’s credentials if they are registered with the Law Society of South Africa.
Your estate will include various assets and liabilities depending on your specific circumstances, for example, property, investments, pensions, liquid assets (checking and savings accounts), others. Remember, if you want to have your estate appraised, you will need to use an appraiser who specializes in the appraisal of deceased estates.
South African inheritance tax, or estate duty, applies to all estates worth a certain amount, and property may be subject to capital gains tax and gift tax. Read more about tax types in South Africa.
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Estate duty in South Africa applies to estates worth more than R3.5 million. Additionally, the tax rates are as follows:
We can’t say this enough – it’s in your best interest to hire a solicitor when preparing your will as they have the professional approach to be able to understand your particular situation and give you the best advice going forward.
If you are a foreigner or have foreign assets, you should take more into consideration. For example, if you own property outside South Africa and have a separate will for that property, your executor in South Africa may not have the authority to enforce your other will in your country. These are the types of situations that a lawyer can help you resolve. Successful wealth transfer plans start with good taxes
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