DURBAN – The realities of the coronavirus pandemic has compelled some citizens to get their legal affairs in order; law firms are reporting an uptick in the number of clients sorting out their wills.
Christel Botha a Fiduciary Services Manager, said: “life in lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic has given people time to reflect on their personal affairs, which has lead to an increase in numbers of people making and updating their Last Will and Testament in a bid to regain control over their lives.”
Meanwhile another law firm expert says it’s mostly been people in the older age brackets who’ve recently been making out their wills or updating existing ones.
“The age group of these clients is above 40 and 50 or thereabout, so we’ve seen the elder population coming forward making amendments or making new wills. But the younger generation are still not coming forward as we would’ve expected. For some individuals, this pandemic has given them an opportunity to think; it’s a change in circumstances,” he said.
However, with social distancing protocols still in place, having a will witnessed by two persons who will not be benefiting from it, and who are together at the same time, as prescribed by the Wills Act, could be difficult and a will cannot be signed electronically.
Botha suggests that you print the will in duplicate, and then try and find two witnesses who are easily accessible, such as neighbours, or colleagues if you are back at work.
“Once signed and dated, store the original wills in a safe place until you are able to arrange for delivery of one copy to your nominated executor for safekeeping. Keep a copy for yourself in a safe place and let friends and family know where to find it,” she said.
The Wills Act requires the following for the document to be legally binding:
- Each page of the will must be signed
- The same witnesses must sign throughout
- People who may not sign as witness includes the following:
- Any beneficiary in the will and/or their spouses
- The executors, trustees and guardians and/or their spouses
- With each written/manual amendment to the will, the testator and two competent witnesses must also sign at each amendment on the will
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