By Sanette Viljoen – SV Legal Consultant
You are under no legal obligation to have your testament drawn up by a professional person. Anyone may draw up his or her own testament. However, it is advisable to rather obtain the expertise of a professional to compile a testament. It is an important legal document and a poor testament can have far-reaching consequences.
A testament is the document that sets out precisely how you wish your hard-earned assets to be inherited. The wording must also be very clear to in so doing spell out the true intention of the testator. The person compiling the testament must therefore preferably be a competent person with a legal background, to make sure that no contradictions or ambiguity exists.
A valid testament must comply with certain legal requirements. Every testament has standard clauses that must be included, for example the protection of an heir against insolvency, the possibility of an heir divorcing, exclusion of communal property, the creation of a testamentary trust for minor children etc.
It is particularly important to know that, should you have minor children and your testament does not create a testamentary trust for them, their inheritance will be paid into the trust fund of the state. This creates enormous problems and frustrations for your children’s guardian to in any way obtain money for them.
Your testament can also establish a trust for insolvent or disabled heirs, with trustees who will manage their inheritance on their behalf.
If you appoint an expert to compile your testament, that person will make sure that the correct trust for your heirs is established in your will. The expert will also make sure that all the formality requirements of the law are met. Should a testament not comply with the legal requirements, it cannot be used at all, or there will be court cases that could result in expensive delays.