LSSA President stresses how important it is to have a will

December 20th, 2022

The Cullinan Care and Rehabilitation Centre held a women’s day event on 21 October 2022. The Law Society of South Africa’s President, Mabaeng Denise Lenyai, was invited to speak to a delegation of women about the importance of having a will. Ms Lenyai also spoke on topics such as maintenance, marriage regimes and conveyancing. Ms Lenyai told attendees – who were dressed in Kofifi themed attire – that things were difficult for black people in the past. She added a lot of people were displaced and separated from their loved ones. She added that because of that, a lot of challenges descended on many people, especially on the women of South Africa (SA).

Ms Lenyai pointed out that those challenges, to date, are continuing. She said because of the very beautiful hearts that women have, they get exploited by those who love them and by those who do not know anything about them. She added that fortunately women around the world always gather to support each other and uplift each other.

When beginning her presentation on the topic of wills, Ms Lenyai said many problems arise when people do not pla

President of the Law Society of South Africa, Mabaeng Denise Lenyai, addressing a gathering of women, hosted by the Cullinan Care and Rehabilitation Centre, at their women’s day event.

n what is to be done with their estate in the event of death. She said that in SA when one dies, to distinguish who are the ones to inherit from one’s estate, depends on two things, having a will or not. She explained to attendees that should one die without a will; it will depend on if that person was married or not. And if one was married what type of marriage they entered into, whether it was a marriage in community of property or one married signing an antenuptial contract. Whether one has children or not or whether one had kids but not married.

Ms Lenyai explained to the attendees that should one pass away without being married or having kids, that person’s parent will be the one to inherit the estate. Should there be no parents, the siblings will inherit the estate. She pointed out that in some instances people lie when they go to the Master’s Office that they do not have other siblings or even lie that they do not have parents, so that they get to benefit alone from the deceased person’s estate.

Ms Lenyai pointed out that the other challenge about not having a will is that people start fighting over the deceased person’s estate. She told attendees that they do not want to find themselves where unintended people become beneficiaries of one’s estate, simply because the deceased did not have a will. Ms Lenyai said that she is aware that some retail outlets sell will templates. She said that those can become quite dangerous, because they might not necessarily speak to the challenges that one would want to deal with.

Ms Lenyai added that there are formalities that one needs to comply with for a will to become valid, such as, initials on every page by the testator, together with two witnesses who also must sign the will. She said that if that was not done, there are instances that one family member can dispute the will and the will becomes invalid. She encouraged attendees to look for someone, such as a legal practitioner, who has expert knowledge of how wills are drafted. She added that when done with the help of a legal practitioner, the legal practitioner can advise one to put a clause in the will for a trust to be set up or a trustee appointed for the children. Should one not do this, then the children will be given what is due to them.

Ms Lenyai also advised attendees that while drafting and signing the will they have to make sure that none of the beneficiaries sign, because that will automatically disqualify that individual from becoming a beneficiary. She said that one should find a legal practitioner who will charge a certain amount to draft a will, so that there will not be a challenge and a need to go to court to prove that the will is valid. Ms Lenyai said that another challenge that often occurs with regard to a will is that one will have a proper will drafted, however, do not make provisions for legal cost. She said that if an estate is below R 250 000, one does not need a legal practitioner to administer the estate. If the estate is above that one needs to report the estate to the Master of the High Court and one needs a legal representative to be assisted in that regard. She said that there is a 3,5% fee for the agent, which is 3,5% of the value of the estate. She said that the fees can become too much and advised attendees that they should try and negotiate a 2,5% fee with the person drafting the will.

Ms Lenyai also spoke to attendees about the danger of cohabitation while a couple is not married. She also spoke of child maintenance and spousal maintenance and how the courts deal with them respectively.

Kgomotso Ramotsho Cert Journ (Boston) Cert Photography (Vega) is the news reporter at De Rebus.