Many South Africans pass away without a valid will in place, causing devastating consequences for their families. To help combat this, the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) launched National Wills week through which participating attorneys are offering their will-drafting services for basic wills for free.
This year, national Wills Week will be from October 26-30 and participating law firms will assist South Africans with will-drafting services for free.
According to James Mayhew from WJ Mayhew Attorneys in Tshwane, it is important that, when the time comes to draft a will, the testator or testatrix consult with an expert like an attorney, who is educated and experienced in estate planning and the execution of wills.
“An attorney can advise you on any potential problem which may arise with regard to your will and the consequent administration of your estate. It is important that your advisor has the necessary knowhow to make sure that your will is valid and complies with the required formalities,” Mayhew explains.
The aim of the Wills Week campaign is to position attorneys as the premier providers of wills and estates services to the public, to improve the image of the profession generally and to encourage members of the public who would not normally make use of the services of an attorney, or who may hesitate to approach an attorney, to consult an attorney to have a basic will drafted.
WJ Mayhew Attorneys are one of many firms that have signed op to offer basic wills for free during National Wills Week.
“Not everybody has access to an attorney or legal advice mostly due to the cost involved. Especially now in the lockdown most of us are confronted by the harsh realities of the pandemic which could ultimately result in the inevitable,” Mayhew says.
“Annually, for a short period of time for these last couple of years, people are getting the opportunity to have access to a lawyer. The wills week gives me the opportunity to render a service for a just cause.
“The assistance in itself is not only beneficial for the client and the beneficiaries of his or her estate, but also in the interest of the executors that have to see to the administration of the estate when the time comes,” he adds.
According to LSSA, if you die without leaving a valid will, your assets will be distributed according to the provisions of the Intestate Succession Act, which is generally fair and ensures that your possessions are transferred to your spouse and children.
However, some problems may arise. Your assets may not be left to the person of your choice, it can take a long time to have an executor appointed, and there can be extra and unnecessary costs.