I received a request to write a brief article about Wills. While considering this I decided that it would probably be more appropriate to commence with the Intestate Succession Act before sharing more comprehensively about Wills.
A concern of many people is that the state will inherit their estates. Chances of this happening are extremely rare and it will only occur if a deceased is not survived by any relative anywhere in the world, then and only then will the proceeds of the estate devolve upon the state.
In South Africa, should a person die without leaving a valid will, their estate will devolve in terms of the Intestate Succession Act 81 of 1987. The basics of the Act can be explained by way of examples:
- If a person that has died is survived by a spouse but no children, the spouse inherits 100% of the estate of the deceased person.
- If a person that has died is survived by children but not a spouse, the children inherit 100% of the estate of the deceased person.
- If a person that has died is survived by both a spouse as well as children, the spouse will inherit a share, equally to that of a child, of the estate of the deceased with a minimum of presently
R250 000.00*. The children will inherit the residue of the estate. For example, should the deceased have had an estate of R1 000 000 when he died, a spouse and three children, the spouse would inherit R250 000 and each of the children an amount of R250 000. In calculating this figure one regards the spouse as a “child” and therefore the amount is divided by four. Say for instance the estate was only worth R500 000, the figure divided by four equals
R125 000.00 which one could then reason would be the share for each of the spouse and children. However, as the promulgated figure for the spouse is R250 000, this is the amount the spouse would inherit while the three children will receive R83 333.33 each. In the same scenario, if the estate was R250 000 or less the surviving spouse would inherit the entire estate, and the children nothing.
- If a person that has died is not survived by a spouse or child but is survived by both parents, they will inherit 100% of his estate. Should only one parent survive him, that parent will inherit 50% of his estate and his siblings the balance.
The Act then continues and goes into further detail in the circumstances where a deceased is not survived by a spouse, children or parents, and other specifics which will be incorporated in an article that we will share at a later date.
* This amount is fixed by the Minister of Justice and promulgated in the Government Gazette.