U TESTAMENT EN “LOCKDOWN” / YOUR WILL AND LOCKDOWN

fhbc_dec_mailer_01_03An English version included at the bottom of this article. 

Die Wet op Testamente, Wet 7 van 1953 vereis die volgende vir die behoorlike ondertekening van ‘n geldige testament:

  • Die testateur moet die testament in die teenwoordigheid van twee getuies onderteken, of sy / haar handtekening in die teenwoordigheid van die twee bevoegde getuies aanbring;
  • Die getuies moet die testament onderteken in die teenwoordigheid van die erflater en van mekaar;
  • Die getuies moet 14 jaar of ouer wees en moet in die hof kan getuig.

Artikel 4A van die Wet bepaal dat enige iemand wat ‘n testament as getuie onderteken, of ‘n deel van die testament in sy / haar eie handskrif skryf, of namens en in opdrag van die testateur teken, word gediskwalifiseer om enige voordeel ingevolge die testament te ontvang.

‘n Elektroniese handtekening is ook nie ‘n geldige manier om ‘n testament te onderteken nie, aangesien ‘n testament uitdruklik uitgesluit is van die bepalings van die Wet op Elektroniese Kommunikasie en Transaksies, Wet 25 van 2002.

Dit blyk dus duidelik dat dit nie gedurende hierdie “lockdown” periode maklik sal wees om ‘n Testament geldig te onderteken nie.

Die meeste mense in u huis is waarskynlik ook u familie en erfgename en moet dus onder geen omstandighede u testament as getuies teken nie.

Ons wil die volgende voorstel:

  • As die testateur gehospitaliseer is, kan daar met die verpleegpersoneel gereël word dat die testament deur die testateur in die hospitaal in hulle teenwoordigheid onderteken word;
  • U kan moontlik u testament deur u bure laat teken terwyl u oor die heining waarneem ten einde te voldoen aan die vereiste dat dieondertekening deur die getuies in u teenwoordigheid plaasgevind het;
  • Die SA Polisiediens (SAPD) word as ‘n noodsaaklike diens geklassifiseer, maar dit is onduidelik of u plaaslike polisiekantoorbereid sou wees om hulle lede toe te laat om u testament as getuies te onderteken en dit mag moontlik verskil van polisiekantoor tot polisiekantoor.

Dit is baie belangrik om kennis te neem dat daar op hierdie stadium geen aanduiding is dat Wetgewing tot so ‘n mate sal verslap om die ondertekening van ‘n testament as geldig te beskou indien dit in hierdie tyd en teen die agtergrond van huidige omstandighede nie volgens die voorskifte van die Wet op Testamente onderteken was nie.

Indien daar dus geen opsie bestaan om u testament op ‘n geldige wyse te onderteken nie, sou ons voorstel dat die testament behoorlik deur die testateur onderteken word en die testateur dan ook ‘n verklaring (beëdigde verklaring afgelê by die SAPD) by die testament voeg om te verklaar waarom die testament nie deur getuies onderteken is nie.

Laasgenoemde is beslis nie die ideaal nie, omdat ‘n testament wat op hierdie wyse onderteken is, steeds nie ‘n geldige dokument is nie, maar daar is ‘n baie beter kans om te slaag met ‘n hofaansoek om hierdie testament geldig te verklaar.

Tree gerus met ons in verbinding indien daar enige navrae hieroor mag wees:

Marius Vorster: mvorster@fhbc.co.za / 083 440 1321
Morné van Niekerk: morne@fhbc.co.za / 083 320 1725

YOUR WILL AND LOCKDOWN

The Wills Act, Act 7 of 1953 requires the following for the proper signing of a valid will: 

  • The testator must sign the will in the presence of two witnesses, or affix his / her signature in the presence of the two competent witnesses;
  • The witnesses must sign the will in the presence of the testator and of each other; 
  • The witnesses must be 14 years or older and must be able to testify in court.

Section 4A of the Act provides that anyone who signs a will as a witness, or writes part of the will in his / her own handwriting, or signs on behalf of on or instruction of the testator, is disqualified to receive any benefit under the will. 

An electronic signature is also not a valid way to sign a will, as a will is expressly excluded from the provisions of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, Act 25 of 2002. 

So, it seems clear that it will not be easy to sign a will during this lockdown period.  

Most people in your home are probably also your family and heirs and should under no circumstances sign your will as witnesses.

We would like to suggest the following:

  • If the testator is hospitalised, the nursing staff may arrange for the will to be signed by the testator in the hospital in their presence; 
  • You may have your will signed by your neighbours while observing over the fence in order to comply with the requirement that the witnesses sign in your presence;  
  • The SA Police Service (SAPS) is classified as an essential service, but it is unclear whether your local police station would be willing to allow its members to sign your will as witnesses and this may differ from police station to police station. 

It is very important to note that at this stage there is no indication that Legislation will relax to such an extent to regard the signature of a will as valid if it does not (in this lockdown time and in the light of current circumstances) adhere to the provisions of the Wills Act.  

Therefore, if there is no option to sign your will in a valid way, we would suggest that the will be duly signed by the testator and the testator then add a statement (affidavit to be made at SAPS) to the will to explain why the will was not signed by witnesses.  

The latter is certainly not the ideal, because a will signed in this manner is still not a valid document, but there is a much better chance of succeeding with a court application to declare this will valid.  

Please contact us if there are any queries in this regard:

Marius Vorster: mvorster@fhbc.co.za / 083 440 1321
Morné van Niekerk: morne@fhbc.co.za / 083 320 1725