The Western Department of Human Settlements (WCDoHS) urges all its housing beneficiaries to draft their Wills for free during National Wills Week (13-17 September 2021). A valid and up-to-date Will ensures that your home and movable assets are distributed according to your wishes in the event of death. A valid Will also ensures your loved ones do not experience delays and conflict regarding your wishes, which often is the case in the absence of such a vital document.
The WCDoHS’ Director: Communication and Stakeholder Relations, Mr Nathan Adriaanse, commented that “often our beneficiaries have a misconception that since the Department hands over Breaking New Ground (BNG) houses, the Department can be involved when there are disputes in the family in terms of who inherits the house when the beneficiary has passed away without a Will. Unfortunately, the Department cannot be involved or make decisions in such instances.”
Adriaanse added that the Department “would like to make it clear that once a government subsidised house and title deed has been handed over, it is the beneficiary’s responsibility to ensure that they have a Will in place which stipulates who gets to inherit their house”.
In the absence of a Will, your home and any assets are distributed in accordance with the Estate Laws of the country. Some of the consequences of not having a Will include:
- You not having control over who inherits your home.
- Your partner may be left with nothing if you are not married.
- Family members may argue or disagree regarding your final wishes.
- It can take years for the State to wind-up your Estate.
The Department reminds all government subsidised housing beneficiaries that their house is a big and important investment, not only for their current families, but also for generations that follow. Therefore, beneficiaries must ensure they protect their homes and loved ones, in the form of a legally valid Will.
Beneficiaries can get free assistance to draft a Will from participating attorneys in the Western Cape from the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) during National Wills Week 2021. Assistance can also be provided at any time from various banks, insurance companies, NGO’s and individuals who have the necessary skills to draft a Will. Beneficiaries can also draft their own Will, provided that:
- The Will must be in writing, either typed or handwritten.
- The Will must reflect the date and place it was concluded.
- Each page of the Will, including the last page, must be signed by the testator.
- The Will must also be signed by two competent witnesses.
- It is advisable to have your Will certified by a Commissioner of Oaths to ensure that the Will is a true reflection of your wishes.