By: Sanette Viljoen
The Wills Act no 7 of 1953 prescribes certain requirements that a will has to comply with to be valid. These requirements include the following, among others:
- The will must be in writing.
- Each page must be signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses.
- Each page must be signed by the two witnesses.
- An executor has to be appointed.
What happens if the deceased’s will does not comply with the formality requirements, for example if only one witness signed the will?
According to the formality requirements in the said Act, two witnesses have to sign the will on each page together with the testator. If this does not take place the will as premise is invalid.
However, the Act provides for a court application for condonation of the non-compliance with any formality requirement. If the court can be convinced that the document truly reflects the testator’s last will, the court will declare the will to be valid.
The court must therefore come to the conclusion that there wasn’t any question of any fraud or incongruities and in most cases there would therefore be a valid will.
Such a court application will of course be accompanied by considerable legal costs, even should the application be unopposed. If someone should oppose the application and allege that the will should be considered invalid, the costs could be very high and the applicant would have to fork out a considerable amount.
Make use of a knowledgeable person if you want to draw up a will – a person who knows the formality requirements of a will and who will see to it that they are complied with, from the drawing up of the document up to and including the signing thereof.