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THOUGHT OF THE WEEK May I bequeath my estate to anyone?

Updated: Apr 7, 2020

May I bequeath my estate to whoever I choose, or am I obliged in law to benefit certain persons, for example, a spouse and children? If South African law applies to your estate, you have complete freedom to leave your assets to whoever you may choose. However the Maintenance of Surviving Spouses Act entitles a spouse who has not been adequately provided for in the will of his/her predeceased spouse to claim, in certain circumstances, maintenance from the predeceased spouse’s estate. In addition a parent has to provide for the maintenance of his or her dependent children and if no provision is made for this in the will, the children can claim from the estate. Remember also that the surviving spouse of the deceased may have a claim against the deceased’s estate by virtue of the law governing the marriage or an antenuptial contract. Spouses who are married in community of property have a right in law to one half of the net value of the joint estate.


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This article is not intended to constitute legal advice and is produced for information purposes only and to provide a general understanding of the legal position relating to the topic. It is recommended that advice relating to the specific circumstances of your situation be sought from our attorneys before acting upon the content of this article. This article was written at a particular point in time and accordingly may not always reflect the most recent legal developments, if any, applicable to the relevant topic. Kaplan Blumberg and its partners and/or employees, are not responsible for any consequences which may follow upon any decision taken to act upon the information provided in this article.